With so many Medical Cannabis patients growing their own medicine these days, the topic of pest control seems to be coming up more often. As the numbers of cannabis growers continue to rise, so will the pest control industry, and the use of chemicals I wouldn’t even use to kill rats, let alone spray on my crop of medical marijuana. If you are going to be growing cannabis, read this article to learn about the different pest control options available to you.
Chemicals like Pyrethrins, Dichlorvos, Malathion, and Abamectin are common sights in many grow rooms, and are anything but organic.
While Pyrethrins are extracted from Chrysanthemum flowers, acute toxicity can result in a variety of symptoms, especially in pets, including drooling, lethargy, muscle tremors, vomiting, seizures and death. Toxicity symptoms in humans include asthmatic breathing, sneezing, nasal stuffiness, headache, nausea, tremors, convulsions, facial flushing and swelling, and burning and itching sensation.
Very few studies have done about smoking crops treated with any pesticides, but most importantly about smoking marijuana treated with pesticides. We really have no idea how these pesticides react with Marijuana as it grows, and if it is present at the time of smoking. Luckily more marijuana dispensaries are having their medicine tested in labs to find mold, chemicals, and THC / CBD percentages, helping to keep their patients safe. However, there are many more that are not, and taking in any product off the street.
I am always of the opinion that it’s best to err on the side of caution and in this case that means I use no chemical pest control in any garden I am involved with.
So that brings us to the question:
What are the best organic and natural pest control options for you and your crop of medical cannabis?
In my gardens I only use 3 methods of pest & disease control, all of which are 100% organic and natural. In fact 2 out of the 3 are actually beneficial to the plants.
Neem Oil – Organic Solution For Spider Mites & Gnats
Neem Oil is a wonderful natural pest control product that many companies sell some form of. The 2 most common products are Einstein Oil and DynaGrow Neem Oil. Both are cold pressed from Neem Oil seeds, although only the Einstein Oil says that on the bottle label.
Neem Oil works differently than most people are used to with most pesticides. You can’t just spray Neem Oil once in your garden and expect to have the problem under control, in fact if you are trying to combat a heavy infestation, you will have to spray your plants every other day for a few weeks with Neem Oil to get it under control.
The only toxicity ever found with Neem Oil is 100% infertility in rats who were fed Neem Leaves every day for 11 weeks. However, that was also 100% reversible after the rats were no longer fed neem leaves. Some men out there might even find that to be a benefit.
Unlike most of these new pesticides coming out, Neem Oil has been used for a variety of uses for over 1000 years. In the tree’s native land of India, the locals call the Neem Tree the “Village Pharmacy” for it’s so many uses.
The best method to use with Neem Oil is the preventative method. Using Neem Oil only once a week, can help keep away a multitude of pests. If you have a big problem with pests, you may want to increase your frequency to 2 times a week.
Neem Oil helps with killing many different insects, including, but not limited to: Spider Mites, Gnats
Bacillus Thuringiensis – Natural Pest Control
Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT) is a common ingredient in many Mycorrhizae mixtures. As many of you know, Mycorrhizae are a group of beneficial bacterias and fungi, that aid in the plants root system, as well as eating excess nutrient build up, and dead plant material. Most of you should be using this, if not, get on board, because there are even more reasons to start.
BT has the added benefit of being a naturally occurring bacterial disease of insects. BT produces toxic protein crystals that react inside the insects stomach, paralyze the digestive system, and from then on the insect stop eating. After a long period without eating the insect will eventually die and you will be bug free.
Most typically BT is good for Fungus Gnats, and not only can it be applied at the root level using water, but sprinkling the powdered form on the tops of your plants growing media can help get rid of those annoying gnats even faster.
PH 8.5 Water To Control Mold
Our final natural and organic method of pest control is just water. That’s it, just plain good old water, with an adjusted PH of 8.5, and a few drops of surfactant.
We use the PH 8.5 water to prevent and control White Powder Mold and as added benefits, this also washes off the Neem Oil we use once a week, as well as just gives the plants a nice bath. Never underestimate the benefits of foliar spraying, even with just plain water; your plants will love you for it.
I would recommend spraying your plants 2 times a week with this water, with the lights on. If you have 1000 watt lights make sure you have them raised up 18 – 36 inches above your canopy to ensure you do not burn your plants (burning is not a problem with LED Grow Lights). As long as you have enough surfactant in your spray, you don’t have to worry about burning your plants because of water drops. One of the purposes of surfactant is to reduce the surface tension of water, and allow smaller water drop, therefore preventing magnification burn.
Doing this with the lights off could actually do you more harm than good, so make sure you do it with the lights on, with a circulating fan on the plants as well. You want the plants to dry in an hour or less to as to not encourage mold growth.