Croatian tomatoes benefit from Biobest’s expertise

Tomato production in Croatia is on the increase. In the village Bošnjaci near Županja, about 260 kilometres from Zagreb, a brand-new greenhouse facility is currently delivering its first harvest. Komet, the company of the Bilić family and owner of the greenhouse, relied on Biobest expertise to have an effective IPM and pollination strategy in place right from the start.

The new 10,000 m² high tech greenhouse was constructed for Komet by the Dutch company Van der Hoeven and planted end 2014 with Endeavour RZ, a variety bred by Rijk Zwaan. Harvesting has started since end of March.

Whitefly, spider mites and russet mites are the main tomato pests in this part of Croatia. Pascal Briand, sustainable crop management specialist at Biobest, helped the Bilić family implement an IPM strategy based on beneficials and food supplements. “To control whitefly, we released the predatory bug Macrolophus pygmaeus,” tells Pascal. “We did this in a preventive way, a few weeks after the first crops were planted. Then we applied Nutrimac and Nutrimac Plus by sprinkling it on the release spots on a weekly basis.” Nutrimac and Nutrimac Plus are two food supplements based on sterile moth eggs and cysts of brine shrimps. They give a boost to Macrolophus development.

However, until Macrolophus was ready, the grower needed to protect its young tomato plants against the first whiteflies present in the greenhouse. “We therefore introduced the parasitic wasp Encarsia formosa while Macrolophus was still settling,” says Pascal. “Once at fighting strength, Macrolophus can control whitefly alone.”

Macrolophus is a quite handy beneficial, as the predatory bug is also keen on spider mites. Pascal: “Together with the predatory mite Phytoseiulus persimilis, which is used particularly in hotspots, Macrolophus ensures a reliable control of spider mites.

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