Tagawa Greenhouse leads biocontrol in North American ornamentals

Tagawa Greenhouse was started in the 1960s by five Tagawa brothers to produce high-quality plants and provide excellent customer service.

Five decades later, having expanded to three growing facilities and teamed with Biobest, Tagawa is leading in the development and implementation of biocontrol in North American ornamental plant production.

“As a grower you can control light, moisture, temperature, nutrients and growth, but insect pressure is one variable that is very difficult to control,” Charlie McKenzie, the site manager at Tagawa’s 20-acre New Mexico site, said.

McKenzie now works with Biobest’s technical representative Emiel Vanderwel.

“Emiel’s knowledge, growing experience and enthusiasm impressed me and we have developed a strong working relationship,” McKenzie said. “For biocontrol to work, you have to look at programs on a crop-by-crop basis, taking in to account factors such as when it is being grown, where, how and the likely insect pressure.”

McKenzie knows that each crop requires a different type of biocontrol program but that thorough pest monitoring and scouting as frequently as once a week will allow Tagawa to continue to produce successful results.

“It is impossible to argue against biocontrol if it works as well, or better, and is competitive in cost compared to traditional pesticide use,” he said. “There are really many benefits: better staff health and safety, more vigorous and healthier plants, and a reduction in environmental impact. Switching to biocontrol has also increased employee interest in the crop. In the end, the most important benefit is that customers are very enthusiastic and love the idea of residue free plants – we see it as a useful point of difference and a strong marketing and sales tool for the future.”

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