In the greenhouse, we are dealing with a living product: the plant. This plant not only produces beautiful eggplants, but is also of interest to many pests, fungi and diseases. This makes us less happy as producers. Pests, fungi and diseases negatively affect the yield and quality of our beautiful eggplants. We obviously want to avoid consumers buying an eggplant that is covered in aphid droppings, caterpillars or mold. For this reason, we must ensure that we create a biological balance in the greenhouse. This is a difficult process, but fortunately we are getting a long way. How exactly do we do this? You’ll read about it in this blog post!
Creating biological balance
What does creating biological balance really mean? By this we mean that the “bad bugs” and the “good bugs” are in balance with each other. In fact, some aphids may well be present in the greenhouse, but then, for example, there must also be enough ichneumon wasps, gall midges and ladybugs present so that it does not get out of hand. We cannot afford an imbalance in this with the scale on which we grow eggplants, as this will have too great an effect on production and quality. To prevent this, we sometimes intervene with plant protection products. These are often biological agents that ensure that only the aphids do not survive but the “good bugs” do. For this reason, we often correct locally. In fact, by intervening locally, we give the “good bugs” that survive the chance to seek out the “bad bugs” again somewhere else in the greenhouse. In this way, we ensure that the army of “good bugs” becomes a lot larger than the army of “bad bugs.
Wondering what kind of pests, fungi and diseases can occur in our greenhouse? We list the most common ones for you:
- White fly
- Spider mites
The biological control agents
Nowadays, we see many pesticides disappearing from the option package. Added to this is the fact that newly developed drugs are often slow to be allowed on the market and to be used in practice. As a result, options are limited. This also makes it less and less interesting for producers of crop protection products to go down this route. This concerns us as a company. Worldwide, the population is still growing and it needs plenty and quality food.
The various biological control agents we can currently use are:
- Predatory mites
- Snake wasps
- Predatory bugs
- Wire flies
To get an idea of what pests, diseases and fungi are present in our crop, we try to “scout” them as best we can. Our workers who turn in the plants carry several signal clips, which are brightly colored cards.
A few times a year, the team receives explanations about the various pests, diseases and fungi present. For example, a green signal card means: Luis! Then we stick a card on a string where the crop grows. We also do this at the beginning of the row, at the concrete path. This allows the person responsible for crop protection to see immediately on the concrete pad where a spot of aphid has been found. In this way, highly targeted biological control can be deployed.
The effect of diseases and pests
Deploying biological control agents and allowing some diseases and pests, also ensures that this can leave its mark on the product. For example, if we suffer from thrips, you get “thrips crowns” at the bottom of the fruit. These are spots on the product, and as a result, the eggplant no longer looks completely even, black and purple. If the stains are too large, they may no longer be sold and become a Class II. As to when a product falls into a Class II, agreements are always made with the buyers.
Another example is damage from aphids and whiteflies, these leave a sticky secretion on the crop and thus also on the fruit. This causes our product to enter Class II or even end up as waste. Caterpillars and fungi always end up in the trash. Even though the percentage of class II and waste is very low, it is still a shame that eggplants occasionally fall under this grading.
After all, a thrips butt is not something that makes a consumer sick; it is purely optical. We are all working towards a more sustainable world and we as a company are very happy to participate in this, but then the general view of a natural product will have to change with it!
Maximum organic is always the starting point!
Of course, we continue to keep a close eye on developments regarding organic crop protection. If you have further questions about how we protect our crops, please contact us.