Episode 5: Bugs and Preventative Measures

7ACRES is proud of the high duty-of-care we possess in our cultivation of cannabis production. Cannabis is an incredible plant, but it takes a substantial amount of experience, patience, and innovation to create and maintain a successful grow—without infestation or contamination ruining the crop. We use different types of preventative measures to protect our cannabis and to contain its environment; namely – beneficial insects, PPE, and zonal boundaries. Our aim is to use these best practices to ensure that harmful bugs, bacteria, and other matter don’t contaminate our beautiful plants.

There’s no doubt that the cannabis plant has real enemies! Insects that eat cannabis plants are a constant threat; as they can damage and ultimately destroy our growing plants. Fortunately, we utilize nature to our advantage here – beneficial insects to prevent and manage damage to our beloved plants and remove all of the bad insects. Pest management is a big deal when growing cannabis, so beneficial insects are a powerful natural solution/preventative measure.

Beneficial insects are natural predatory insects that are intended to be released into an individual plant or garden to attack the pests that can damage your crop. They can be used at various stages of development, and can be used preventatively or acutely. They are a great natural way to avoid harsh pesticides.

There are a multitude of beneficial insects that can be used in cannabis production to both prevent and cure. The 7ACRES team releases these beneficial bugs to our plants by hanging sacks on the plants, directly applying them to the soil, or by opening the package of plant defenders in the growing space. The job of these beneficial insects is to then travel across the plant and detect food; their food being the pests that seek to damage our plants.

These beneficial insects are best used preventatively. At 7ACRES, we continually introduce these biosecurity agents to keep predators away. This way, we remain vigilant in preventing them from reaching a level wherein they can cause a full-on outbreak to the plants—a grower’s worst nightmare.

Beneficial bugs can also be used to treat a plant that has become compromised. However, depending on the size and severity of the outbreak, it can take weeks to determine the damage to the plant and how long it will take the beneficial bugs to reclaim it. If an acute outbreak occurs, beneficial insects should be applied every few weeks. As a preventative measure, beneficial insects can be applied more frequently.

Three common pests that attack cannabis plants are Spider mites, Fungus gnats, and Root aphids.

Spider mites are perhaps the most common pest for cannabis plants, and can be one of the most devastating. They live on the underside of leaves, where they puncture them to suck the juices out. They are super tiny (less than a millimeter) so it is really difficult to spot them. Spider mites spin little webs on the plant, and if you see something resembling a tiny cobweb, it is likely they have already infested the plant to some degree.

Spider mites spread quickly and rather effortlessly throughout a crop via airborne webbing. The mites can also spread to workers’ clothing and tools – which is another reason why 7ACRES is so diligent with our PPE and other protective measures like zonal boundaries. Spider mites can be a huge pain because they develop very fast and their colonies increase rapidly. And the warmer and dryer the environment, the more they thrive. Cannabis growers should thus have spider mites at the top of their protective radar at all times! We know we do, as we take every precaution to protect our precious plants.

The first symptom of spider mites are patches of light yellow on the leaves, caused by the larvae, nymphs and adults feeding. At 7ACRES, we are always attentive in examining our plants to catch these first symptoms early, if they exist. Californicus is one effective bioweapon (i.e. beneficial insect) 7ACRES uses against the dreaded spider mite.

According to our insect partner BioBest:

“[Californicus] is able to colonize plants and survive in the absence of the pest by eating pollen and other sources of nutrition – such as fungal spores and hyphae. It controls spider mites by locating small populations and predating upon them – containing and slowing their development; however, it is not so effective at operating within webbing or dense colonies”.

7ACRES also makes use of an excellent spider mite predator: Phytoseiulus persimilis. If you catch the spider mites in time, this is a highly effective curative approach. BioBest again states that “Every day, adult predatory mites devour about 20 spider mite eggs or larvae, 10 nymphs or 5 adult spider mites”. Under ordinary circumstances, this predatory mite population will outgrow the spider mite population by large margins. They can save your plant crop from spider mites in a matter of days. These beneficial insects offer us a viable natural approach to preventing and curing pest outbreaks within our cannabis plants.

Beneficial insects are cool and all, but sometimes it’s the simple things that matter the most, like keeping things clean. This is another way that 7ACRES ensures biosecurity: through effective PPE.

We have always been very stringent about PPE and uniform processes. From the very start, we have implemented and upheld the strictest sanitary measures in our facilities. When growing live organisms, a tiny particle or insect carried into the facility can cause a devastating infestation or disease outbreak. Our team is equipped with effective PPE such as googles, latex gloves, masks, shoe covers, hair nets, Tyvek suits in select rooms, beard nets; in addition to staff uniforms that never leave the facility. Our team is trained to understand that they are required to change PPE frequently; they must dispose of the previous PPE, and outfit themselves in fresh PPE when moving between facility spaces. These extra sanitary precautions require some additional costs, but we believe these costs justify the end result – our amazing high-end cannabis created under stringent sanitary guidelines, free of pests and bacteria.

Our 7ACRES team is also very regimented in how we move between spaces at our growing facility. To prevent contamination and ensure high-quality cannabis, we use zonal boundaries. For example, a team member who has been in the trimming room must change all of their PPE, and in some cases shower, before entering a different zone. These zonal boundaries ensure there is no cross-contamination between different spaces in our facility. Our zonal boundaries and strict PPE measures work hand-in-hand to prevent any type of contamination.

We spend a great deal of time and effort to ensure our plants are healthy and prospering, and strict preventative measures play an essential role in propping up this process. Every tiny detail must be accounted for when it comes to biosecurity to ensure we are not at risk of wasting the fruits of our labour. Our High-End cannabis is a result of these painstaking biosecurity processes! Respecting the future ideal of the plant means protecting it through safe, natural measures as it grows…so it may develop to its full potential and thus serve our trusted community in all its glory.