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Home > Feature Articles > Landscaping

California's Rose Nurseries Test IPM Techniques Successfully

California nurseries produce two-thirds of the cut roses grown in the United States, with a wholesale value of $45 million.

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ipm floriculture of roses in nurseries California nurseries produce two-thirds of the cut roses grown in the United States, with a wholesale value of $45 million. Pest control options have been limited in the past, resulting in the heavy use of pesticides and increasing resistance in important pests such as western flower thrips and two spotted spider mites.

An Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program has been successfully developed in California greenhouse cut roses. The IPM test program was directed at the key pests of cut roses, and was based on fixed precision sampling plans, thresholds, biological control, directed sprays of reduced risk pesticides, and cultural control. This program represented the largest effort to date to implement an IPM program in U.S. floriculture.

Fresh cut roses are often harvested twice daily, so revised reentry intervals imposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) after pesticide application limit the number of pesticides that are useful in this production system (EPA 1995).

The typical number of pesticide sprays applied to roses grown for cut flowers has impeded the implementation of integrated pest management (IPM) procedures, particularly the use of biological controls.

The IPM approach to pest management incorporates all cost-effective control tactics appropriate for the crop, including biological, cultural and chemical controls.

Pesticides that target hard-to-kill floriculture pests frequently kill natural enemies as well, which favors continued reliance on conventional pesticides. However, the heavy use of pesticides in cut roses is also a worker safety concern in global and local production. California rose growers reached a crisis point about 8 years ago, when pesticide resistance, costs and limited pesticide availability threatened the growers’ ability to effectively manage twospotted spider mites.

The key pests of cut roses are twospotted spider mites (Tetranychus urticae), western flower thrips (Frankliniella occidentalis) and rose powdery mildew (Sphaerotheca pannosa rosae).

Heavy pesticide use against key pests in the greenhouse has resulted in the widespread development of pesticide resistance in western flower thrips.

This project was initiated in 2000 with major funding from the Pest Management Alliance Program of the California Department of Pesticide Regulation. Eight growers spanning the major rose-producing areas of California (San Diego, Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz counties) participated in the program. All pest management decisions in the IPM greenhouses were based on the IPM program that we developed, while the grower made all pest management decisions in the conventional greenhouses.

There is currently no cost-effective biological control agent for western flower thrips in cut roses, so control of this pest in the IPM greenhouses included both cultural and chemical methods.

Cultural control was the removal of open flowers, and chemical control was applications of spinosad (Conserve) or azadirachtin (Azatin) directed to the flowers when the thrips-per-trap-perthe study.

Predatory mites were successfully used in all of the IPM greenhouses and almost eliminated the need for miticides.

Overall, the rose IPM program was declared successful. For example, most of the growers participating in the study wanted to abandon their conventional treatments in favor of using a biological control, predatory mites, to control twospotted spider mites; we allowed them to do so after we felt that enough data had been collected or a good comparison of the IPM and conventional treatments.


The scientists involved: C. Casey is Assistant Professor of Entomology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, N.C.; J. Newman is Environmental Horticulture Farm Advisor, UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE), Ventura County; K. Robb is Farm Advisor/County Director, UCCE Mariposa County; S.A. Tjosvold is Environmental Horticulture Farm Advisor, UCCE Santa Cruz County; J.D. MacDonald is Professor, Department of Plant Pathology, UC Davis; and M.P. Parrella is Professor of Entomology, UC Davis.

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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