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    Why It’s Important to be Proactive and Not Reactive When Using Biologicals

    Published on: | Created by: Ronald Valentin

    Tags: beauveria bassiana, biological control agents

    Organic vegetable sprout protected by biological control agents

    Products like Anatis Bioprotection’s BioCeres WP & EC® and BCAs (biological control agents) help growers control pests early without the threat of resistant conventional pesticides

    If growers are to succeed in their use of biological products, they need to use them proactively – not reactively, says Ronald Valentin, Director of Technical Business for Anatis Bioprotection, which produces, sells and distributes insects, mites, beneficial nematodes and biopesticides to control insects and pests of horticultural, greenhouse and agricultural crops in Canada and the U.S.

    To be more proactive in their use, Valentin says growers need to address two biases sometimes associated with biological products: that they cost too much and that they don’t perform. To his point, Valentin contends that biologicals can be a worthy investment and can perform exceptionally well when used appropriately.

    That said, more growers have adopted the use of biologicals in the past 10 years, especially those in ornamentals, Valentin notes. They are doing so mainly because they have witnessed the product losses that can occur when there is resistance to traditional pesticides. Valentin says he knows of a growers who have lost significant numbers of hanging baskets and other plants because they were so scarred by thrips that they were unsellable, thanks to a traditional approach of pesticides that didn’t perform because of resistance.

    “That’s when a grower starts thinking there has to be a better way,” Valentin says. “Historically, one of the leading factors for growers to look at biological products is when they run into problems with pesticide resistance.”

    Government regulations of traditional pesticides, partially brought on by consumer influence, have also led to increased development and use of biological products. In turn, more growers have become better educated about biologicals, which has made them more open to trying them. There are also more trustworthy products available from reputable companies.

    A Front-Loaded Approach

    Growers need to stop reacting to pest problems, Valentin stresses, reaffirming that they can do that by using biologicals proactively – and early in the crop cycle. “It's a front-loaded approach; it needs to start early,” Valentin adds. “But it can be difficult for some growers to get around the reactive mindset. But they must take a proactive approach and adopt a different mindset.”

    Valentin uses thrips as an example. Once thrips are already establishing on the plants, they are difficult to control, Valentin says. “It’s hard to stop that train, but the whole thought process of using biocontrol is to not let the train leave the station,” he adds. Using breeding cultures in the form of sachets of predatory mite Amblyseius cucumeris are an extension of what happens in our production. These are all little predatory mite factories inside the crop that help to establish the predatory mite population in the crop before thrips even gets a foothold.

    To control thrips, whiteflies and aphids, Anatis Bioprotection offers BioCeres® WP & EC, a certified organic emulsifying or wettable powder bioinsecticide based on the entomopathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana of the ANT-03 strain. It can be used on ornamental cultures, tomato, cucumber, peppers, herbs and spices, cannabis, and sweet potato cuttings. BioCeres works by contact, sticking to the pest’s cuticle, which causes infection and then death. The repressive effect is noticeable between 3 to 7 days depending on the insect size.

    “In the case of BioCeres, applications need to begin the during the propagation process when cuttings are being rooted or young vegetable plants are being propagated,” Valentin says.

    Product freshness is also a vital component for biological control. Because Canada-based Anatis Bioprotection produces and distributes its own products, it can reach its customers in North America quickly. Border crossings and import permits, which can often delay product shipments from overseas, are also not a concern. While Anatis Bioprotection is based in Saint-Jacques-le-Mineur, Quebec, it has partnered with East Hartford, Conn.-based BioSafe Systems to supply BioCeres products in the U.S.

    “We are producing product much closer to where our BCAs are used,” Valentin says. “The main reason for that is because it contains living insects and mites. It is not ideal to have them sitting in a bottle five to seven days before the bottle ends up in the growers’ crop. Providing growers with fresher BCAs makes a big difference in performance and efficacy.”

    Anatis Bioprotection’s products contain live entities that have expiry dates. So, a product that gets to a customer faster will last longer because it’s fresher, Valentin stresses. “The fresher it is, the healthier that bio control agent is going to be,” he adds.

    In addition to offering fresher product, Anatis Bioprotection also offers technical expertise to its customers to combat any misinformation about biologicals. In addition, the company’s technical experts offer instruction on how growers can achieve the best performance from BioCeres products. Anatis Bioprotection also uses data that analyzes the efficacy of its products to help its customers make informed decisions.

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