Greg Nilsen  |  Wine Country Cuisine  |  Santa Rosa, CA

Subject: Pesticide alternative

I have read numerous papers about flame weeding over the years but never one about an important side effect. A few years ago, I had all of my chard beds ruined by black aphids farmed by ants who feed the honey dew to their young. Ants carry aphids down the rows plant to plant and fight off lady bugs and other beneficiaries. 100% crop loss. I took my propane torch and cooked all the beds. Killed everything - ants, aphids, slugs, diabrotica, mold, bacterial spot, caterpillars, egg masses - except the chard which grew back beautiful in four weeks. My collards were destroyed by slugs. Flamed the ground and lower leaves and the new leaves are clean. This is also great for trap crops. I grow arugula under row covers to keep out flea beetles. After harvest I can remove the cover and the flea beetles go nuts. Flaming takes them out with no resistance possible and no pesticide applicators license needed.

This works in the rainy season but not during fire season. However, weeds and pests only need to be cooked, which is 200 degrees, not incinerated. A portable propane heated blower machine could get fire marshall approval for year round use.

In Topics Pest & Disease Management

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