Cucumber: start with beneficials in the nursery!

At this time of the year, cucumber and gherkin propagators throughout Western Europe are preparing plants for the second planting of the season, which starts around the end of April. No need to use chemicals! A comprehensive biocontrol strategy protecting against thrips, whitely and aphids is possible with beneficial insects and mites. The key to success is called “prevention”.

Sam Gui, Sustainable Crop Management Specialist at Biobest: “A small army of Amblyseius swirskii will effectively prevent the development of thrips and whitefly. In propagation, pest pressure is generally low so the swirskii army needs some extra food to maintain itself. We advise growers to use Nutrimite™. It’s easy to disperse homogeneously with a small blower. With this food supplement the predatory mites can be introduced early on and will establish themselves in good numbers on the leaves".

But cucumber nursery growers have more enemies to fear. Aphids also love to nibble on the young plants. Sam’s advice: ”To deal with aphids, Biobest’s Aphi-Mix-System is the perfect solution. It’s a ‘blend’ of different parasitic wasp species. Monitoring aphid species is difficult due to the high density of plants. With this blend the crop is protected against the four major aphid species attacking cucumber: Aphis gossipy, Myzus persicae, Macrosiphum euphorbiae and Aulacorthum solani. Aphi-Mix-System thus also fits in an overall prevention strategy. When correctly applied, the parasitic wasps will attack and control aphids before the grower even noticed them".

Sam concludes: “Applying a preventative biocontrol strategy not only works well for the propagator. It also adds value for his clients, the cucumber and gherkin growers. They can start with healthier plantlets without chemical residues and with beneficials already present in the crop".

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