Nursery Sector Biosecurity Guide
4.0 Crop Health Management in Production Stages

4.1 Production Inputs: Purchasing and Receiving

Production Inputs: Purchasing and ReceivingFootnote 8

Target Outcome

Production inputs are not a potential source of pests.

Benefits: Receiving inputs such as propagative material, plants, soil, growing media, water or packaging material from external sources has the potential to introduce pests to the nursery. Pest introduction may be mitigated by evaluating the risks associated with inputs sourced from suppliers and inspecting inputs upon arrival.

All inputs should be inspected upon arrival.

Considerations

  • Assess the risks associated with inputs such as soil, growing media and plant material from external suppliers. Purchasing inputs from suppliers that implement biosecurity measures or an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program may mitigate the risk of pest introduction to a nursery.
  • Be aware of the risks associated with imported wood pallets, bamboo stakes and other natural nursery supplies. These inputs should also be inspected prior to entry into the nursery.
  • Maintain purchasing records for inputs. Records may include the supplier information, number of plants and date planted. This information can help identify the supplier, other inputs or nurseries that may be affected when responding to a pest detection.
  • Inspect all inputs upon entry into the nursery. If pests are present, the inputs should be returned to the supplier, disposed of, or cleaned and disinfected.
  • Maintain inspection records. These records can be used to track the product or supplier if a pest is detected.
  • Avoid co-mingling of new plants or other inputs entering the nursery with older material and mother stock. For example, use barriers or buffer zones to separate plants.
  • If the pest risk of an input is unknown, the product should be considered high risk and placed in the segregation area to be monitored for the presence of pests.
  • Assess the risk of recycled water and treat as required. For example, recycled water used for container-grown plants should be tested for water-borne pathogens such as Phytophthora species.
Production Inputs: Purchasing and Receiving Self-Assessment Checklist
Biosecurity Measure Yes Sometimes Never Not Applicable
Risks of inputs purchased from external suppliers are assessed.
Pest distribution in the location of the supplier is taken into consideration when purchasing plant material.
Purchasing records are maintained.
Inputs are inspected upon entry into the nursery.
Inspection records of inputs are maintained.
New plants received from outside sources are not co-mingled with older plants and mother stock.
Inputs with an unknown risk level are segregated and monitored for pests.
Received plants are separated from finished plants and from propagative material.
When a pest is detected in an input, the product is returned to the supplier, disposed of, or cleaned and disinfected.
Recycled water is regularly tested and treated as required for nutrients and pests.

4.2 Crop Production

Crop ProductionFootnote 9

Target Outcome

The combination of Best Management Practices and the implementation of biosecurity measures optimize the production of healthy plants.

Benefits: Healthy plants are better able to withstand pest pressure. The growing conditions required for producing healthy crops will differ between nurseries. Some growing conditions and production practices may also promote the introduction and growth of pests. Implementing biosecurity measures into the production process can help optimize the production of healthy plants.

Considerations

Internal and external environment

  • Reduce or manage overall plant stress that can make plants more vulnerable to pests. Plant stress can be caused by:
    • Physical injury to plants from equipment or pruning;
    • Environmental stress, such as frost damage or water stress;
    • Production practices, such as hardening-off, crop density or chemical treatment.
  • Protect plants against inclement weather by using shade cloths or blankets.
  • Develop and implement a management plan to respond to damage from environmental conditions that cannot be mitigated.
  • Growing conditions should be managed to support crop growth while minimizing the crop's susceptibility to pests. Growing conditions such as high humidity can promote the establishment of some pests, for example fungus or mould. In situations where growing conditions may create pest risks, production practices such as increased airflow or increased plant spacing may be considered to minimize potential outbreaks.
  • Weeds can harbour pests and spread weed seeds into crops. Manage weeds around the perimeter of the nursery or production areas.

Nutrients, growing media and water management

  • Ensure that an adequate fertilizer program is in place, as nutrient-deficient or over-fertilized plants are more vulnerable to pests.
  • Soil and growing media may be potential sources of pests. Inspect these inputs upon arrival to nursery and if a pest is present, treatment may be necessary. Treatment options include heat pasteurization, solarization or fumigation.
  • Periodically test the nutrient content of irrigation water, as water quality is important for the production of healthy plants.
  • Assess the risk of recycled water and treat as required. For example, recycled water used for container-grown plants should be tested for water-borne pathogens such as Phytophthora species.
  • Different types of irrigation systems such as flood, drip and overhead irrigation pose different plant health management concerns. Become familiar with common problems posed by the type of irrigation system at the nursery.

Plant material selection

  • Assess the risks associated with plant material from external sources. To mitigate the risk of pest introduction, purchase plants from a supplier that implements biosecurity measures such as a Clean Plants certified nursery or that has an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program in place.
  • For propagation activities, purchase certified pest free plant material such as virus-indexed material.
  • Choose plants that are appropriate for the growing conditions of the nursery.
  • Implement a management plan to prevent the introduction of pests when planting material that is highly susceptible to pests like Phytophthora ramorum or boxwood blight.

Crop protection approaches for commonly occurring pests

  • Implement an IPM program. IPM is a decision-making process that takes many factors into account when deciding on a treatment. Regular scouting, weather observations, use of phenological indicators, treatment follow-up, record-keeping and a pesticide resistance management strategyFootnote 10 are all components of a successful IPM program.
  • Pest thresholdsFootnote 11 for non-regulated pests may be established to trigger the use of a particular treatment. It should be recognized that what constitutes a threshold is complex, as there are different thresholds for different crops and pests. The threshold may differ depending on whether the objective is to suppress, eradicate or manage the pest.
  • Maintain records of applied control measures and the results, as well as the response of natural enemies to help identify conflicts. Impacts of insecticides on the natural enemies of insects can be researched using online databases prior to application. For an example of a pesticide record, please see Appendix 4.
  • Be aware of secondary impacts of pest control measures. For example, herbicide applications can be toxic to biological controls.
  • Disrupt the lifecycle of pests in field production by using methods such as crop rotation.

Crop Production Self-Assessment Checklist

Internal and external environment
Biosecurity Measure Yes Sometimes Never Not Applicable
There is a plan to address injuries to plants from environmental and physical damage.
Optimize production conditions to minimize plant stress.
Wherever possible, biosecurity measures are applied when growing conditions favour pest introduction and spread.
Weeds are managed around the perimeter of the nursery or production areas.
Nutrients, growing media and water management
Biosecurity Measure Yes Sometimes Never Not Applicable
A fertilizer program is in place.
Monitor soil and growing media for pests.
Periodically test the nutrient content of water.
Test recycled water for pathogens.
Knowledge of the impact of the type of irrigation system on pest presence.
Plant material selection
Biosecurity Measure Yes Sometimes Never Not Applicable
Pest risk associated with plant materials from external suppliers is assessed.
Certified pest free plant material is purchased for propagation activities.
Plants are selected based on suitability to nursery growing conditions.
For highly susceptible plants, a management plan is in place to prevent pest introduction.
Crop protection approaches for commonly occurring pests
Biosecurity Measure Yes Sometimes Never Not Applicable
An IPM program has been implemented.
Plants are regularly monitored for pests.
Weather patterns and phenological indicators are used to predict pest pressures.
For non-regulated pests, thresholds are used to trigger control measures.
Detailed records of control measures and results are kept.
Awareness of secondary impact of control measures.
Use past pest management actions to anticipate and avoid future pest issues.
Proper rotation of crops is incorporated in the planting schedule.

4.3 Pest Management Program (Monitoring, Identification, Decisions)

Pest Management Program (Monitoring, Identification, Decisions)Footnote 12

Target Outcome

Minimize production losses through the early detection of pests.

Benefits: A monitoring program allows for the early detection of pests of concern and is essential to determine when pests are about to reach a threshold when control measures may be implemented. Regular monitoring and proper pest identification are the critical first steps in an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program. A monitoring program will also allow for the assessment of the effectiveness of control measures and production practices. Early detection can help prevent economic impacts from pests.

Considerations

Monitoring

  • Adjust the monitoring program during specific times in the production cycle, such as flowering or periods where control measures are more likely to be successful or cost-effective.
  • For up-to-date pest information for the area or region, refer to external sources such as weekly pest reports by provincial governments (Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs [OMAFRA]) or sector associations. This information can be provided to employees by posting the reports in common areas.
  • Formal and informal monitoring may be included in the monitoring program and be used to make decisions to implement control measures.
  • The frequency of formal monitoring is dependent on multiple factors such as season, crop and pest.
  • Informal monitoring should include the inspection of new plant material when it arrives at the nursery.
  • Maintain records of formal monitoring activities, especially pest detections. Records can be used to predict times of pest occurrence. Records may include date, crop, Growing Degree-Days (GDD), phenological indicators, pest, symptoms observed, timing of symptoms, possible causes, control measures and the success of the control measures.
  • Record-keeping of informal monitoring may not be necessary.
  • A trained employee may be assigned to review monitoring records from previous years to prepare a pest management plan for the next growing season.

Identification

  • Provide employees with fact sheets for pests of concern or information sheets that explain how to identify pests of concern. Posters may be hung in common areas to help employees identify pests of concern such as boxwood blight or Japanese beetle.
  • All levels of employees are informed of the process to report suspected pest detections to designated employees at the nursery.
  • Not all employees require training on all biosecurity measures such as pest identification or pest control measures. Refer to section 2.0 Education, Training and Communication for further information on training and communication of a biosecurity plan.
  • Trained employees may need access to resources such as books, online resources, provincial or associated specialists and consultants to assist in pest identification, as well as developing and implementing pest response plans.

Decisions

  • Pest response plans have been developed to make pest control decisions.
  • A designated employee should be trained to decide the timing of control measures and to assess the success of control measures.
  • Trained, designated employees should be aware of the reporting process when a regulated pest is detected and have access to the contact information for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

Pest Management Program (Monitoring, Identification, Decisions) Self-Assessment Checklist

Monitoring
Biosecurity Measure Yes Sometimes Never Not Applicable
The monitoring program is adjusted accordingly during highly susceptible time periods within the production cycle of crops.
Up-to-date pest information from external sources is collected and made available to employees.
Plants are regularly monitored for pests.
Knowledge of pest biology and historical information on the timing of pest occurrence is used to schedule monitoring.
Detailed records of monitoring activities are maintained.
Monitoring information is reviewed and used to make pest management decisions.
Identification
Biosecurity Measure Yes Sometimes Never Not Applicable
Pest fact sheets or identification sheets are available to employees.
Employees have been instructed to inform designated employees if a pest is detected.
Designated employees oversee the pest management plan.
Information sources that describe pest identification and life cycles are accessible to employees.
Experts are consulted if the identity of a pest is unknown.
Decisions
Biosecurity Measure Yes Sometimes Never Not Applicable
A pest management plan is in place.
A designated employee has been trained to decide and assess the success of control measures.
The result of control measures is reviewed.
Update the IPM plan as required.
Knowledge of the regulated pests present in the area and of the associated requirements following detection.

4.4 Shipping and Production Outputs

Shipping and Production OutputsFootnote 13

Target Outcome

Finished product leaving the place of production is free of pests of concern.

Production wastes are managed, treated and disposed of to reduce the risk of spreading pests.

Benefits: Managing outputs, finished product and waste mitigates the potential risk of pest introduction and spread from a nursery to neighbouring nurseries, the surrounding landscape, and to areas where the product may be received. In addition, detecting pests in the finished product may indicate potential pest issues in the field that may require a response.

For the same reason plants are inspected upon arrival, plants should be inspected prior to shipping.

Considerations

Shipping finished product

  • Effective crop maintenance and health management is essential for shipping a high quality finished product that is free of pests of concern. Refer to section 4.2 Crop Management for further information.
  • Implement a traceability system that facilitates both trace-forward and trace-back activities for finished product in the event of a pest detection once finished product has left the nursery.
  • The following information can be recorded to help with trace-forward or trace-back if a pest is detected in the production area or the finished product after it has left the nursery:
    • What is the source of the finished product?
    • How long have the plants been in production at the nursery?
    • What is the destination of the finished product?
    • What pests are present or not present at the destination?
    • What counties, provinces or states will the finished product transit through to arrive at the final destination?
    • Are there permits or declarations required to ship the finished product?
  • Appendix 5 is an example from the Clean Plants Nursery Manual of the information and records to collect that support traceability activities.
  • Prior to shipping, inspect the finished product for pests of concern.
  • Record the inspection information and include the date, name of employee, crop, findings, source and customer.
  • Inspect trucks and shipping containers for pests and organic debris prior to loading the finished product. If cleaning is required, assess the potential for pest introduction or spread to the nursery depending on the risks associated with the debris or pests present.

Production waste

  • Locate compost piles away from the production area(s).
  • To prevent the infestation of other crops, assess the pathways of pest transmission when disposing of infested plant material. For example, if the pest is spread by wind, the infested material may be disposed of by deep burial, transportation to a municipal disposal facility or other methods that minimize the risk of pest spread and introduction. Producers should also be aware of any provincial waste management regulations that may apply.
  • Recycled pots and plastic containers should be cleaned prior to re-use to mitigate the potential for pest spread.

Shipping and Production Outputs Self-Assessment Checklist

Shipping finished product
Biosecurity Measure Yes Sometimes Never Not Applicable
Effective plant maintenance and health management is used to produce a high-quality finished product.
A traceability system is in place that facilitates both trace-forward and trace-back for finished product.
Finished product is inspected prior to shipping.
Inspection information is recorded.
The truck or shipping container is inspected prior to loading finished product.
The risk of pest introduction is assessed before cleaning trucks or shipping containers.
Production Waste
Biosecurity Measure Yes Sometimes Never Not Applicable
Compost piles are located away from production areas.
The pathway of pest transmission is assessed when infested material is disposed of to prevent pest spread.
Recycled pots and plastic containers are cleaned before use.

4.5 Responding to a Pest

Responding to a PestFootnote 14

Target Outcome

An Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program is developed to respond to common pests. Formal response plans are created for pests of greater concern.

Benefits: When a pest is detected, there is a decision-making process to determine if a response is required, the timing of the response and the identification of the most appropriate control measures. When a pest is found, there are factors that may be considered to decide if control actions are necessary. These factors include the level of pest infestation, the impact of the pest on crop growth, the stage in the production cycle, and the time of year. Control measures may not always be required as not all pests carry the same risk. An Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program is an important aspect of early pest detection but also plays a critical role in responding to a pest. Creating a pest management plan and formal response plans involves analyzing the pest risk to determine the level of response required. Preparing detailed response plans prior to the identification of a pest may facilitate an effective and timely response which may reduce production losses.

The considerations outlined below in Non-regulated pests may also apply to the response to a regulated pest find. However, a regulated pest find may require specific actions that are provided by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

Considerations

Non-regulated pests

  • Prepare an IPM program that includes responses to pest detections. The response should include confirmation of pest identification, determination of pest risk, determination of pest thresholds that would require control measures and potential control measures.
  • Confirmation of pest identification by designated employees, laboratories, extension specialists, consultants, researchers and the CFIA.
  • Increased monitoring may be necessary when a pest is detected to quantify the level of infestation or assess the effectiveness of control measures.
  • Pests introduced to a nursery through imported plants or cuttings may already be resistant to pesticides available in Canada. When resistance is encountered, consider alternative control measures such as biological control.
  • Consult provincial production guides for control measures, treatments and chemicals that can be applied to respond to a pest detection.
  • Periodically assess the effectiveness of the IPM program to foster continuous improvement and efficiencies.
  • Potential pest spread is mitigated by controlling or restricting the movement of plant material, people and equipment in and out of the infested area.
  • To limit the spread of pests, infested plant material should not be mixed or come in contact with other plants.
  • When a pest is detected, management of shipping activities may be necessary to help mitigate the spread of the pest. For example, infested or potentially infested plant material may not be shipped.

Regulated pests

  • When a regulated pestFootnote 15 is identified, contact the CFIA to report the detection.
  • Include in the response plan the contact information for the local CFIA office.
  • If the detection of a regulated pest is suspected, limit potential pest spread by controlling or restricting the movement of plant material, people and equipment in and out of the infested area.

Responding to a Pest Self-Assessment Checklist

Non-regulated pests
Biosecurity Measure Yes Sometimes Never Not Applicable
An IPM program has been prepared that includes responses to pest detections.
Pest responses include confirmation of pest identification, determination of pest risk, determination of pest levels that would require control measures and potential control measures.
Pest identification is confirmed by designated employees, laboratories, extension specialists, consultants, researchers or the CFIA.
Monitoring is enhanced when a pest is detected.
Monitoring is enhanced to assess the effectiveness of applied control measures.
When pesticide resistance is encountered, alternative control methods are considered.
External sources are consulted for control actions, treatments and chemicals that can be applied to respond to a pest detection.
New chemicals are assessed for efficacy and crop tolerance prior to broad use in the nursery.
The effectiveness of the IPM program is periodically assessed and updated as necessary.
Movement in and out of the infested area is controlled or restricted.
Infested plant material does not come into contact or mixed with other product.
When necessary, shipping activities are managed to prevent pest spread.
Regulated pests
Biosecurity Measure Yes Sometimes Never Not Applicable
The CFIA is contacted when a regulated pest is suspected or identified.
The response plan includes contact information for the local CFIA office.
Potential pest spread is mitigated by controlling or restricting the movement of plant material, people and equipment in and out of the infested area.
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