With summer in Alabama in full swing and extreme temps in the 90's and the heat index over a 100 lately these little pests still seem to want to eat no matter how hot it is. With voracious appetites these guys can do damage quickly especially if you planted large acres of hemp with not a lot of one on one contact with your plants or maybe you have seen some signs of damage but just can't identify the culprits.
We're talking about Caterpillars. Yes believe it or not these pests are only doing what they are suppose to be doing, eating, eating and eating. Did we mention eating? Yes caterpillars can be a nuisance to your hemp crop but they don't have to be if you can follow a few step. There are obviously unlimited amounts of species of caterpillars but we're talking about a few species that seem to navigate towards cannabis plants more specifically. These are commonly called cutworms, cabbage worms, corn borers and leaf eaters. Our featured image is an example of a little leaf eater who loves to suck the chlorophyll out of leaves weakening the location of the leaf and allowing more problems to occur.
This kind of damage is easy to spot. You will notice that there seem to be translucent spots and miny trails on and under the leaf surface. This is the caterpillar eating its way through your leaves and leaving his clues behind. This is not to be confused with the signs of "leaf miner" damage. Below are 2 examples. The picture on the top is signs of caterpillar damage and the picture on the bottom is caused by a leaf miner.
Notice the distinct trail like features on the leaf indicating leaf miner damage. Taking care of caterpillars is something that needs to take place pretty quickly before crops can be damaged resulting in low yield productions on your farm.
Here are a few solutions to get rid of this problem. If your business model for the farm is craft or small boutique propagation then you would simply inspect every plant one by one and hand remove each one you find. This can be tricky because some are extremely small and all of them for the most part love to hide. Once you start to identify damaged leaves you'll get pretty good at identifying them. As a general rule you should find them in about a 12" radius from leaf damage.
TIP: The best time to eradicate them will be very early morning before temps start to rise. These little guys feed over night then typically bore themselves into the soil and wait for dinner time.
If you're growing acres of crops than your work can be very time consuming and other means will have to be incorporated. On our farm we grow with all organic methodologies and programs in place. That means using natural ways to mitigate these problems. Natural and organic methods usually take more time to eradicate issues but provides a much better quality crop as a finished product. Be very careful using chemical derived pesticides as you can run into other issues not to mention the quality of your crop when finished. You may significantly decrease the value of your crop using traditional pesticides if your expectation is to blow it into crude by .
Here are 4 natural ways that should help you in getting rid of these guys.
1. The good news is you can actually drown them with a good hard foliar spray of dechlorinated water. This is not the end all be all though for the most part. Nail them with water then hand pick if you can. The good news is when you remove them they typically do not return.
2. Cinnamon Brew: Make a cinnamon tea by adding an ounce of cinnamon to a gallon of very hot water. Let the tea cool to room temp, strain it and spray directly to the plant. Direct hits on the pests are best.
3. Spraying a natural insecticidal soap can work as well especially sprayed directly on them.
4. Diluted Neem Oil works very well as it is very toxic to caterpillars among other pests. Spray on leaves about every ten days till eradicated. Neem oil leaves an oily film on your plants and does not have an appealing taste. Note: Neem oil should only be used in vegetative state and not in your plants flowering phase.
I hope this little bit of info helps you all. We have encountered them already this season and got them under control very quickly with no signs of them being in town. If we can help you in any way just let us know and when you have a minute visit our website uneekbotanicals.com for our services and more info on how we can help you. We offer a few superior services to our farming partners and would hope you could take advantage of them. We are here for you and until next time. B Safe & B Well!
Comments will be approved before showing up.