Crop scouting is a vital tool in identifying and managing pests. The ability to recognize pest damage in a cannabis grow allows growers to minimize the use of chemicals and avoid crop loss.
Scouting can be done by human staff or through digital solutions. Regardless of the scouting method used, it should be done regularly.
1. Insects and Diseases
Scouting is a key part of crop management in cannabis, especially if you want to avoid the use of pesticides. This is because pesticides can be harmful to both human health and the environment, as well as damaging the cannabis plant.
Insects, diseases and weeds are all potential issues in your crop. Using crop scouting to identify these problems early will save you time and money down the line.
There are several different types of insects that can damage your crops, but one type that is particularly common in marijuana is aphids (Figs. 3 and 4). Aphids are large enough to be seen without magnification, so you can spot them when they start feeding on cannabis leaves.
These pests can cause serious damage by eating away at leaf tissue, which results in a distorted look to the plant’s appearance. They can also cause bud rot.
Another insect pest that can be problematic in cannabis is the hemp russet mite (Aculops cannibicola). These mites are very small and can only be seen with a microscope, but their populations can quickly explode on a crop, causing severe damage.
When checking for insect pests, it’s important to inspect each plant individually. This will help you see whether the problem is localized or widespread.
You should also take note of any signs that indicate that the plants are infected with a disease, such as stunted or off-color leaves. This will let you know when to spray the entire crop or apply specific chemicals that are designed for disease control.
Diseases can be caused by a wide variety of factors, including soil conditions, water quality, environmental issues, weather conditions and more. They can also be transmitted from crop to crop through spores or other biological agents.
Many of these diseases can be controlled with an integrated pest management (IPM) program that relies on biocontrol agents and/or biopesticides to prevent the disease from developing in the first place, rather than treating the infection once it has already developed.
The easiest way to do this is to keep a grow diary of your pest control practices. This will allow you to easily monitor when and how each pest appears in your crops and help you develop effective strategies to eliminate them.
2. Pest Life Cycle
If you are a cannabis grower, you will likely need to use crop scouting techniques to identify issues in your crop. Crop scouting is the process of regularly checking a random sample of plants across a field to detect any pests or diseases, which can be used to inform management decisions.
To do this, a crop scout should walk the field and observe the plants. They should then make notes of any areas that look different and need attention, and they should collect samples for analysis.
Scouting is a valuable tool for farmers, who can then use it to optimize their crop production and improve yields. It can help farmers to identify pests, weeds, and plant diseases, which could lead to improved crop efficiency, as well as a healthier crop.
Crop scouting methods will vary by the specific pest or disease being targeted. These will include the time of day, stage of the crop, location to look on the plant or in the soil, and action population thresholds.
Depending on the situation, crop scouting can be done manually or using particular tools. Some crop scouts may utilize sticky traps, sweep nets, or hand magnifiers to get a closer look at plants.
Another way to scout is by focusing on specific areas of the field that appear stunted or have a different color variation, which can indicate higher pressure in one area. You can also check for signs of insects such as aphids or caterpillars.
Insect and disease pests can have a long life cycle, so it’s important to understand their habits. For instance, spider mites tend to be found on the underside of leaves, but can be seen on the upper sides as small stippling when they are active.
Some of these pests can affect the health of the crop and cause it to wilt. These problems can be prevented with proper crop scouting and pest control measures.
You can also use a scouting form to record your findings and keep track of all the information you gather during the scouting process. This information can be a valuable resource to assess any pest pressure and evaluate the economic risk of insect infestations and diseases.
3. Damage Types
Crop scouting is a process that enables farmers to identify issues in their crops. This includes pest pressure and crop injury, allowing farmers to make informed decisions about control measures. Scouting also provides information about economic thresholds, which are the level of damage that a crop can tolerate without affecting its yield.
The damage that a crop sustains from pests or disease can be very subtle and can be difficult to spot. This is why scouting is so important. Using the correct scouting sheet for your crop and taking random samples is the best way to ensure that you are getting an accurate reading of the damage.
Insects are one of the most common causes of damage to cannabis crops. They can be small (thrips, mites), or large (borers). Some pests only affect the leaves of a plant and will not infest the stems or roots.
To identify pests, a crop scout should take note of the size of the insects, their colour and the amount of damage they cause. They should also inspect the foliage, seed heads and pods, and stems and roots to look for signs of insect infestation.
For the most part, scouting is a manual process that can involve walking through the field and observing plants. However, there are a number of specific pieces of equipment that can be used when crop scouting for a particular crop. These include field notes so the farmer can keep track of what plants need more attention, a pocket knife for sample taking and a hand magnification lens.
When scouting for weeds, a crop scout must be able to identify the type of weed present and its stage of growth in order to know the best management approach. Early detection of weeds can help eliminate yield loss by controlling them at an early stage, before they have grown over four inches tall.
Thrips are a common pest for a variety of plants, but they are especially damaging to cannabis. Their presence in your grow room can be very annoying and will reduce the health, potency and yield of your crop. The damage they leave behind looks like dried spit, stripping leaves of chlorophyll and turning them brittle and dark.
Crop scouting is the process of walking through a crop or field and observing what plants are growing and how they look. This is important because it helps a grower know what issues they need to be aware of.
Often, farmers will use crop scouting to identify pests that are present in their crops. They will then take steps to prevent these pests from affecting the crop or to control them if they are already there. This is especially true for pests that are a major issue for the plant.
A crop scout will also be able to identify issues in the environment of the cannabis grow. These can include the amount of rain or snow on the ground, the weather, soil erosion, and other environmental factors that may affect a crop.
For instance, if a crop is exposed to rain or snow for long periods of time, it can cause the ground to become waterlogged and this can lead to rot and mold growth in the soil. This can be a big problem because it can damage the crops and decrease yields.
Another thing to consider is the type of lighting that is being used. This is important because some light sources, like HID bulbs, can cause fires to start in a grow. If the grower is using a light source that is not properly insulated, this can be an even bigger problem.
As mentioned earlier, many greenhouses and indoor grows use supplemental lighting to help with flowering. Generally, these lights need to be on for 14 hours or more per day in order for the plants to stay in their vegetative phase.
If this is not the case, the flowers can start to wilt and die before they are fully developed. This can be an expensive and difficult problem for the grower because it will require them to remove all of the flowering buds before they are harvested.
Lastly, a good crop scout will be able to identify other environmental problems that can also affect the crops in their garden. This can be anything from a weed problem to a plant disease that is impacting the crops.