When voters approved medical marijuana in Oklahoma, Andrew Green knew his next business venture would be in the cannabis industry. After losing his father to lung cancer, Andrew realized how many people could benefit from premium medical marijuana, so he co-founded Cowboy Cannabis Pharm with his business partner Monty Taylor to help people fight the medical battles of their lives. Despite a focus on preventative care with clean ingredients, his facility faced a big problem this year.
After purchasing new clones, the health of the crops at Cowboy Cannabis Pharm started to decline. The team saw visible signs of a nutrient deficiency; leaves were starting to brown, there was slowed growth and drooping leaves. Andrew monitored his parts per million regularly and ruled out a nutrient problem. He contacted Grower’s Ally cannabis advisor Brian Keenan for advice.
What initially looked like a nutrient deficiency was clear as day under the microscope, russet mites. Russet mites, also known as hemp russet mites or Aculops cannabicola, are some of the most damaging pests that modern growers face. Because more growers are transporting strains and clones between states, pests and diseases are transported more easily, too. Most growers will get russet mites by passing infected clones.
Russet mites in particular are very difficult to identify and are easily transported on clones, clothing, animals, other bugs and even the wind. Russet mites do not leave behind webbing like spider mites and early russet mite damage is often confused with nutrient deficiencies, allowing them to build a large population before many growers are able to identify the true problem.
For the team at Cowboy Cannabis Pharm, identifying the problem was a critical step. The day they knew they were battling a russet mite infestation, Andrew and his team made the business decision to cut 440 plants from their grow. They kept 105 plants, meticulously trimming and introducing curative pest control measures into their Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program to get rid of the russet mite infestation.
Brian and the team took swift action and incorporated Grower’s Ally Spider Mite Control into the IPM program at Cowboy Cannabis Pharm, spraying at the curative mix rate of 1% or 40 mL per gallon of water, every 3-5 days.
Formulated with rosemary, clove and peppermint oils, Grower’s Ally Spider Mite control is a contact insecticide, miticide and repellent. It is a natural way to get rid of russet mites on cannabis plants. The botanical oils overstimulate and disrupt the pests’ nervous system, leading to paralysis. The oils block air from the russet mite spiracles, preventing them from breathing and causing suffocation on contact.
With the lights and the fans off, the team used an atomizer for application to deliver a mist that was fine enough to treat the problem where the mites are, fully saturating the undersides of the cannabis leaves and giving special attention to the crevasses and veins.
The team allowed the product to fully dry before turning the lights and fans back on, waiting 4 hours for the formula to penetrate and deliver results, while giving enough time to avoid a phytotoxic event.
After two weeks of treatment, the team at Cowboy Cannabis Pharm eradicated the russet mites and ended their harvest with 48 lbs. of premium flower that reached 30% THC and 3.75% terpenes. Andrew says, “Grower’s Ally Spider Mite control saved our grow and allowed us to have a good harvest.”
Russet mites are a modern problem that can be extremely difficult to identify. To prevent a russet mite infestation at your grow, here are 5 takeaways to remember from our cannabis consultant, Brian Keenan:
When you can’t keep a closed loop at your grow and need to get clones from another facility, bring a microscope (100x) with you for an initial inspection of new clones.
Wait 2-3 weeks before integrating new clones into your existing environment.
Even if you don’t see anything, assume there is a problem and spray miticide at the preventative mix rate.
Quality inputs only work at the intended mix rate; there is a science to it. Cutting the solution causes a bigger problem: pest resistance over time.
When introducing new clones, monitor the plants very closely. Don’t forget to wash your hands, alcohol your clothes, disinfect meticulously.
If you don’t know what’s going on with your grow, find someone you trust to help you identify the problem. Brian advises, “When you don’t know something, ask for help! That’s an important part of the process.” Connect with Brian and the Grower’s Ally team for a customized treatment plan here.
Pictured: Monty Taylor, Cole Joyce, Jerry Taylor, Blaze Shimanek, Andrew Green. Special thanks to our friends at Cowboy Cannabis Pharm for putting their trust in Grower’s Ally and allowing us to share their story. To learn more about Cowboy Cannabis Pharm, visit their Instagram account.