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Pollination and biocontrol in lit strawberry crops

In the case of strawberry cultivation under artificial lights, most growers choose to introduce biological pest control, just as they do in an unlit crop. "Growers who extend the cultivation or harvest in winter can also rely on our package of beneficial mites like Phytoseiulus-System, Californicus-System and ABS-System to control spider mite and thrips. Bumblebees are there to support pollination, however they need some extra care and attention," says Eline Braet, Biobest advisor.

In lit crops the bumblebees are ready to pollinate the strawberry flowers. However, they are less able to navigate their way around in the lit crop. Eline: "Bumblebees need daylight for orientation - they are less able to navigate in artificial light. Biobest has a solution - we advise only opening the nest sliders between 10am and 2pm. This can be easily automated with our system of bumblebee racks."

Combination of predatory mites against spider mite
Furthermore, the strategy to control spider mite is similar to that in the unlit crop. During winter spider mites and thrips continue to be the main pests, although they develop less quickly at lower temperatures. To control spider mite, Eline recommends a combination of the predatory mites Phytoseiulus-System and Californicus-System. "If the pest pressure is high, we recommend repeating the introductions of the voracious Phytoseiulus persimilis."

ABS-System against thrips
To control thrips, Eline recommends growers to use ABS-System. These Amblyseius-Breeding-System sachets contain feed. This enables Amblyseius cucumeris to multiply inside, ensuring a continuous release of predatory mites over several weeks. In Eline's experience, these mites can keep the pest pressure down throughout the entire crop. "A crop that finishes clean will benefit the next crop cycle,” she says.

No glue residues
Strawberry growers generally deploy sticky traps, or sticky rolls – such as Bug-Scan Roll Yellow - to monitor thrips and whitefly. "For ease of use, Biobest supplies plastic clips that enable growers to attach the rolls easily to the poles – thus eliminating annoying glue residues," concludes Eline.

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