Greenhouse IPM

PA IPM has devoted a great deal of effort to designing IPM solutions for greenhouse production, particularly biological control.
Greenhouse IPM - Articles

Updated: March 19, 2010

Greenhouse IPM

Greenhouse production in Pennsylvania is a diverse enterprise. Greenhouse businesses range from small family run operations to very large greenhouse operations that have several acres under glass or plastic. Moreover, both food and non-food crops are produced in greenhouses in the state. The non-food production is part of the green industry. Food crop production primarily consists of the production of vegetables and herbs.

A semi-permanent type of greenhouse, high tunnels, have been becoming quite popular in the state recently. To learn more about high tunnels visit the plasticulture website.

PA IPM also has ongoing education programs in central and western Pennsylvania. Read on to learn more about greenhouse IPM in Pennsylvania.

  • Greenhouse IPM Manual with an Emphasis on Biocontrol
  • Vegetable Integrated Pest Management with an Emphasis on Biocontrol: A Guide for Growers in the Mid-Atlantic

PA IPM Greenhouse Education Program

PA IPM is contributing to a Penn State effort to reduce pesticide use and increase biological pest control in campus greenhouses. A biological pest control program developed by the College of Ag Sciences reduced the need for pesticides in their teaching and research greenhouses. They were awarded a grant from the Penn State's Center for Sustainability to expand their biological control program and extend the program to other campus greenhouses.

As a part of this effort, a greenhouse biocontrol workshop was held in March 2015 for greenhouse growers and educators who want to reduce pesticide use. According to greenhouse manager Scott DiLoreto, the hands-on workshop included an overview of biocontrol strategies, laboratory and greenhouse observation of biocontrol organisms and a presentation by local grower Chuck Mothersbaugh, who uses biocontrols in his vegetable production houses.

The isolation and controlled climate in greenhouses creates an optimum environment for pests to flourish and damage greenhouse crops, causing economic losses. Pesticide use can effectively reduce pest populations, but poses a suite of significant environmental and exposure hazards that disrupt work schedules and interfere with harvest and sales. Using biocontrols within an IPM program is catching on because many growers are looking for viable alternatives to using pesticides. Since most pests have various parasites, diseases and predators that can kill them, beneficial organisms can be a significant means of control.

This greenhouse biocontrol initiative also includes significant teaching and outreach components. Biocontrol internship positions were created and each semester several students have a unique opportunity to gain practical, hands-on experience with greenhouse biocontrol. They scout for and identify pest organisms, release biocontrol organisms and monitor the efficacy of the biocontrols. Additionally, special biocontrol teaching modules were integrated into agricultural classes with greenhouse crop production components. Class participants learn about biocontrol methods in class and participate in biocontrol protection of their class crops.

Additionally, PA IPM works with greenhouse growers in central Pennsylvania, Lancaster, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh areas. Cathy Thomas, PA IPM coordinator and biocontrol specialist based at the PA Department of Agriculture, has headed the program for over ten years and been a part of numerous IPM/biocontrol related projects working with Penn State and Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture personnel. She has been instrumental in leading the way for many greenhouses to go "pesticide free".

Contact Information

For questions about the greenhouse IPM program contact:

Cathy Thomas
PA Dept. of Agriculture
Bureau of Plant Industry
2301 North Cameron Street
Harrisburg, PA 17110-9408
Phone:717-705-5857 x254
Email: caththomas@state.pa.us