Puro’s natural born defenders

31 March 22

We have released over 400,000 beneficial bugs to protect our precious plants.

One of the key challenges of growing medical cannabis organically is protecting plants from pests safely and sustainably.

Being organic means Puro can't use traditional pesticides, and as a grower of a plant that will end up in medicines spraying any type of toxins on our plants is simply not an option.

Thank goodness for Bioforce and their billions of bugs. Bioforce is New Zealand’s largest farmer by head of livestock – it just so happens that most of their livestock can’t be seen by the naked eye.

Bioforce rears and sells beneficial insects, mites, and microbes whose life mission is to search and destroy unwanted plant pests.

Already this growing season Puro has released over 400,000 beneficial bugs at Kēkerengū.

Chris Thompson from Bioforce says the bugs are tiny, with mites measuring around 0.8mm in length.

“If you go looking with a magnifying glass you’d be able to see them, but they like to hide which helps them to ambush pests,” says Chris.

Despite being a new crop in New Zealand, Chris says there’s been a lot of international research on the use of biocontrols for cannabis.

“We know that pests find the cannabis plant really hospitable. They love cannabis, a little too much I think,” says Chris.

“Overseas research shows that pests that like eggplants, strawberry and cucumbers plants, like spider mites, whitefly and aphids, also enjoy eating cannabis. The good news is once you know what pests you are dealing with, you can find their natural enemy.

“While pests eat the actual plant, our good bugs are only interested in eating pests. The Aphidius wasps we’ve released for Puro smell out aphids and kill them. Quite simply, their life purpose is to breed within aphids bodies.”

As well as using Bioforce’s Mite-A range of bugs, Puro also experimented with ladybirds.

“Ladybirds are aphid predators but they're just like cats in that they do what they want and aren’t particularly loyal. Predatory mites and parasitic wasps on the other hand are man’s best friends of the insect world.”

Chris says emerging overseas research suggests that some pests can actually be good for cannabis plants.

“When pests chew and suck on the cannabis plant it can actually stimulate the plant to produce terpenes as a defence response. So it seems that some pests are good, but too many can ruin a plant. We are here to help Puro make sure they get the balance right.”