Germany: Plant protection for herbs in the winter

What does plant protection look like in herb production in the winter? Are there any gaps in the use of pesticides, where the industry / legislator could offer improvements? Editor Therese Backhaus-Cysyk asked herb producers.

Organic business works with small, preventive measures
“As an organic business, we work with many small preventive measures,” shows André Segler of the Blu-Blumen (Langenberg) nursery. “In the winter, it is sometimes difficult to use beneficial organisms, as the temperatures in the greenhouse are too low and the beneficial organisms do not work actively then.

However, it is important to be and remain 100 per cent pest-free in the winter, if possible. Because otherwise in the spring when it gets suddenly warm in the greenhouse the pest populations explode. Many herbs are among the host plants of Xylella. That’s why we’re observing this topic very closely. It’s not a problem yet, but you never know.”

Optimised culture management, which also includes plant protection measures, is particularly necessary if the production business cultivates various species (in this image: mint).

Protecting herbs in the winter with Neudosan Neu and Spruzit Neu
“Due to the cooler temperatures in the winter, there are fewer problems with animal pests, with the exception of some aphid species,” say Danny and Swen Rankers of Gartenbau Willi Rankers (Straelen). “As an organic producer, we have the two contact agents of Neudosan Neu and Spruzit Neu at our disposal for fighting pests. The effective, part-systemic Neem Azaal requires a minimum temperature of 15 degrees Celsius, which is given in the fewest of our departments.

We also continue our preventive, broadly ranged use of beneficial organisms with various predatory mites, parasitic wasp types and lacewing larvae in the winter months. Although the development and vitality are strongly limited at cold temperatures, this also applies for most pests and, at the first increase of temperatures, we have a basic population that can then immediately get to work.

Thanks to culture management aligned optimally to the relevant species, such as temperature, air movement, watering process and fertilisation, most fungal diseases can already be prevented. The use of various plant strengthening agents via the watering water is another element for healthy plant growth.

It is mainly powdery mildew that causes problems on various herb types, above all with sage. All we have at our disposal here is the Kumar contact agent with the active agent potassium hydrogen carbonate. Here, too, all infestations need to be hit. With normal stock, this is virtually impossible.

As an organic herb producer, more or less only the four above plant protection agents are available to us, of which three are also only effective via direct contact,” the herb experts explain. “We would want to see more in-depth research in the area of natural pest control options, in companies but, in particular, also at universities and testing agencies. There are certainly still some plant active agents that can be used to protect against pests and fungal pathogens. The large area of useful bacteria and fungi is likely by no means exhausted and is partly being prevented by application bans in Germany.”

Plant protection: successful culture management with Neudosan
“As we produce our pot herbs in accordance with the Bioland directives, the question about plant protection measures does not really arise,” explains Monika Mulke of Mulke Topfkräuter/Gärtnerei Taunusblick (Wiesbaden).

“Hygiene and the correct species selection and an early response in the event of problems are necessary for an optimal and successful culture management, which also includes the lighting, heating and airing. We also use the tried-and-tested Neudosan.”

Extremely optimised culture management for 240 herb species
Bioland KräuterGut Dworschak-Fleischmann (Nuremberg) also produces vegetables and herbs in an organic way. Use of beneficial organisms is standard. “With up to 240 herb species, some 80 of which are permanently in cultivation, this is only possible if culture management is extremely optimised,” emphasises Tanja Dworschak and explains: “Preventing is better than healing.” It is important to enter the winter with healthy cultures, which are permanently lighted at KräuterGut, and to give “special attention” in the early spring when it gets warm.

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