April Newsletter

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Upcoming Events

Below is a summary of some of the industry events that are coming up in the next few weeks! The events listed below are primarily hosted by Perennia, and more information on each of them can be found here.
  • TunnelTalk
    • April 3 - Pollination w. Andrea Keddy
    • May 1 - Biological Spray Programs w Sonny Murray
    • June 13 - Greenhouse Ventilation w Matthew Kleinhenz
  • Horticulture Nova Scotia presents 'Soil Moisture Tools' (In person!) - April 9, 2024
    • Focus on field production
  • Introducing Perennia's Online Pest Management Guides - April 10, 2024
  • Introductory Sprayer Training (In person!)
    • April 11 from 9-12 in Coldbrook
    • April 18 from 9-12 in Bible Hill
    • April 25 from 9-12 in Mabou 

Program Updates

On Farm Climate Action Fund (OFCAF) Extended Funding for 2024-2025!
Perennia is excited to announce that our agreement with AAFC for an additional year of programming has been solidified! Applications for 2024 will open Monday, March 4. This is an extension of the program that was offered in 2022 and 2023, so we are still focused on supporting implementation relating to these three best management practices:
    Nitrogen Management
    Cover Cropping
    Rotational Grazing

For any questions about OFCAF, your eligibility, or anything else program related, reach out to our OFCAF technical lead, Georgia Lewis!

Agriculture Research and Innovation Program

The Agricultural Research and Innovation Program supports applied research and innovation activities, as well as on-farm trials that are intended to improve production, productivity, profitability, competitiveness and sustainability of Nova Scotia’s agricultural sectors. 

On-Farm Trials

Farmer/industry-led demonstration trials will evaluate new farm technologies or practices that will lead to enhanced economic and environment sustainability. The key priorities are: 1)Sector driven field and farm trials, 2) innovative equipment trials, 3) soil and water management enhancement trials. 

Eligible Applicants:
  • Farms
  • Agricultural Industry Association 
  • Industry Organizations
For more information on this program, check out the program website!

Seasonal Considerations

While pests wake up from a long, cosy winter, we should be getting locked and loaded with our scouting and monitoring plans for the season. Early detection is crucial for managing problems before they get out of hand, and its a good way to force checks of the crop on a regular basis!

Sticky cards are a fabulous tool. We are looking to see when things start getting stuck, as well as where in the greenhouse. Over time, we can begin to notice trends in where the hotspots for insect presence are, as well as when they typically start to show up. That information will help us better target our preventative sprays and release of beneficial organisms. Biological-based solutions are best suited for implementation before the problem gets out of hand, and scouting/record keeping our the only ways we are going to be able to really hit our target times and maximize our time and energy executing management strategies. While replacement of sticky cards is recommended on a regular basis, the use of a coloured marker can be a good way to keep track of who is new on the sticky card scene. 

Figure 1. Blue and yellow sticky tape installed under tabletop strawberries. 

Production Tidbits: Cultural Practices in IPM

We've all heard about the concept of integrated pest management (IPM) as it relates to horticulture production. This month I want to focus on some of the preventative/cultural checks that should translate to reduced movement of pests and disease onto the farm, across the farm, and leaving the farm. 

1) Consider order of entry throughout the day for people, equipment, tools and harvest bins

Greenhouses (including tunnels, cold frames, caterpillars etc) are very good at amplifying both the good and the bad of production. As it turns out, disease also really enjoy warm, humid, protected places. One of the ways we can reduce the pressure in a tunnel is to try and prevent the introduction in the first place. Germination greenhouses, or places with young plants, should be one of the first stops of the day. The oldest plants, or the ones of least value, should be visited at the end of the day. Those who have been in the field, working on outdoor crops, are ideally not going back into that germination space with our most susceptible plants. Assigning staff to various greenhouses, or various parts of the farm, may be the best way to think about this. 

This is effective, but also very heard to implement regularly on a farm with multiple fields, greenhouses, office, eating and packing spaces. Implementing this imperfectly, as opposed to not at all, is still progress and will hopefully result in a lower biotic stress load in your plants. 

One way to try and reduce the impact of re-entry into more vulnerable spaces is the use of greenhouse-specific clothing and footware. Toss a few pairs of crocs and some stylish coveralls in the greenhouse for you to slide into anytime you enter into the greenhouse. Its fashionable and can significantly slow the movement of soil-borne pathogens into our protected spaces. 

2) Where are we putting our waste? 

Compost piles are the perfect source of infection for the majority of the year. They are warm, moist, and full of food, exactly what the pest doctor ordered! Small gusts of wind are more than sufficient at carrying contaminated tissue, spores, or insects right back into the production area. With a steady stream of inoculum, we are making more work for ourselves to have to come in and manage the pests and disease, as well as pay for our control mechanisms. Take the time and effort to place your plant debris, rotten/damaged produce, and any other waste, far far away from your cash crops. It won't guarantee a disease free year, but it can make your lives significantly easier. 

For those piles that are too big to be moved, prioritize getting a plan in place to deal with the waste. They can be composted, buried, or burnt. For those of you who are having trouble getting the piles up to temperature, try throwing a tarp on top to really get things cooking. 

3) Production area-specific tools

This one gets expensive real fast, but smaller tools like pruners, plant clips, aprons, stakes, pots, etc can be a good first place to aim for! Plant sap is a huge risk when it comes to disease transmission, so containing tools that are in the thick of your plants to designated areas is a good way to try and limit any issues to one space, versus spreading it across the farm. 


Changing practices on farm are never easy, but can pay off in the long run! It's all about giving our registered products and beneficial insects the opportunity to do their jobs well, and make it as easy as possible for them. Continuous, accidental re-inoculation is incredibly hard to curb long term. 

Feature Pest/Disease

This month's feature pest is leek moth! This relatively new pest to NS but made themselves comfortable quickly. They generally have two flights: one early in the spring, and another one later in the summer. 

In 2023, leek moth was first trapped at the end of April in the Annapolis valley. They are nocturnal, so you likely won't see them until window-pane like damage starts cropping up in onions, leeks and garlic. These guys live inside the leaves of onions, boring their way into stems of garlic and leeks, rendering them unmarketable. 

Figure 2. Leek moth and leaf damage - David Fuller, reporting in Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners. 

The best way to monitor for these is using commercially available leek moth traps. In Ontario, research has shown that scouting via pheromone traps was enough to base insecticide applications on. Coming through with your registered products 7-10 days following a peak flight (determined through the use of the trap system), the population and amount of damage can be significantly reduced. 

For those of you leaning away from conventional pesticides, work done in Ontario found that row covers were just as effective as pesticides in reducing plant damage. These covers physically block leek moth adult females from laying eggs on plants. Mark your calendars! Covers should be installed over plants before the adults start flying. which based on last year, is set to happen in a few weeks. 

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Perennia Updates

Our vegetable specialist Tim Morcom will be taking a leave for the upcoming year, effective April 1. Matthew Peill, Perennia's current Molecular Biologist will be filling in for Tim until he returns Spring 2025. Matthew filled the vegetable and berry specialist positions for 18 months back in 2018, so he has experience with extension in this capacity. He will continue to process virus and nematode samples as they come in, all the while supporting the horticulture industry.

Be sure to reach out (mpeill@perennia.ca) with any production woes or questions, he's happy to help! 

That's all for now! If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to your extension specialist.

Happy growing everyone!