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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

NCSU Apiculture on WBUR

David Tarpy, a bee biologist at NCSU, was featured recently on an episode of On Point, a public radio show produced by WBUR Boston, discussing the rise in backyard beekeeping interest.

You can listen to the entire show here.

NC Wine picnic and on Charlotte Talks

Members of the North Carolina Wine Growers Association at their Summer Tech Tailgate. Photo: HJB

Michael and Amy Helton, owners of Hanover Park Vinyard, were on Charlotte Talks, a Charlotte area public radio program today to discuss V. vinfera wine production in NC. You can hear the radio program here. Amy is the current president of the NC Wine Growers Association, which held their Summer Tech Tailgate this past Sunday at Westbend Vineyard. Turner Sutton, NCSU plant pathologist, and myself attended to discuss summer disease and insect pressure in grape production.

Developing grapes at Westbend Vineyard. Photo: HJB

Before the meeting got started, I took a walk through the vineyard at Westbend and was pleased to find very little insect injury. There was a bit of thrips injury on some clusters (a distinctive star shaped scarring), but little other damage. This time of year, growers should be on the look out for spider mites (it's been an excellent spider mite season thus far) and early Japanese beetle feeding. Japanese beetles will begin feeding on the upper parts of the plant.

I presented an overview of insect and mite monitoring in bunch grapes (find a link to this handout here) and Turner discussed the fungal and bacterial rots that are a continuous challenge to grape production in the southeast.

More information
Southern Region Small Fruit Consortium Bunch Grape IPM Guide
NC Ag Chem Manual wine grape spray program

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Other noteable blackberry insects - harvest pests

Update, June 2012
This post remains one of the most frequently visited posts on this blog, but a significant change in blackberry pest management has occurred since it was first written in 2010.  Spotted wing drosophila (SWD, Drosophila suzukii) is now the most common and significant harvest period pest in North Carolina caneberries (blackberries & raspberries).  See here for all our posts on SWD.

Blackberry harvest is well underway and looks to be excellent. If it's any indication, the fruit in my blackberry plots and the Sandhills Research Station has been delicious. Although with sweet, ripe fruit come pests who are just as interested in eating them as we are. Harvest season pests must be handled particularly carefully because fruit will quickly move from field to fork. Because of this, any decision to use pesticides should be take carefully and as always in accordance with the label. A few notable harvest pests have begun showing up in our research plots.

Stink bug eggs and newly hatched nymphs on blackberry leaves at the Sandhills Research Station. Photo: HJB

Stink bugs (several species) are attracted to both developing and ripe fruit. In blackberries and raspberries, it appears that stink bugs feed on the receptacle, inserting their mouth parts between druplets (see here for a great video of stink bug feeding on raspberries from Dr. Doug Pfieffer at Virginia Tech). This feeding may result in single druplet damage near the insertion point. This single druplet damage may render fruit unmarketable for commerical growers, but fruit with single druplet damage is still edible for home growers. Stink bugs can, however, render fruit inedible if they are disturbed and release their defensive chemicals (the "stink" in stink bug) which will foul the fruit. Stink bug fouled fruit tastes just like a stink bug smells. There is no threshold for stink bugs in caneberries, either for fruit damage or for contamination. Frequent, regular harvest will help reduce stink bug exposure to ripe fruit, and therefore the opportunity for insects to foul them. A related fruit feeding insect, leaf footed bugs, can cause similar druplet damage to stink bugs but will not foul fruit. Leaf footed bugs, as their name suggests, have pronounced, leaf-like structures on their legs (not actually their feet).

Update, June 2011
I've noticed some links from other sites directing to this post.  Stink bugs are not believed to cause "white druplet" damage to blackberries.  Stink bugs feed on the blackberry receptacle (the white core of the fruit), and the insertion of their stylets may damage single druplets on either side, resulting in leaky or otherwise damaged druplets.  This injury is very different than white druplets, as shown here. Several white druplets on one side a blackberry berry are associated with sun scald (especially if they are on the side of the fruit facing away from the plant).  Some varieties (i.e., Apache) are more susceptible to white druplets than other, especially in the southeast.

Leaf footed bug on blackberry leaf. Note druplet damage on berry in background. Photo: HJB

The other most notable harvest pest of caneberries are green June beetles. These large scarab beetles feed on many summer fruits, among them caneberries. They are attracted to overripe fruit initially, so good harvest practices can minimize their impact as well.

There are insecticide options for both stink bugs and green June beetles, but these should not be the first line of defense.

Green June beetle on blackberries at the Lower Coastal Plain Research Station, 2009. Photo: HJB

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A successful Small Fruits Field Day

Small fruit field day attendees travel by tractor to the IR-4 blackberry planting. Photo: HJB

The 4th NCSU/NCDA & CS Small Fruit Field Day was held yesterday, June 22nd, at the Sandhills Research Station in Jackson Springs, NC. Although temperatures were in the 90s at the start of the event, we had an excellent turn out. About 175 growers, master gardeners, cooperative extension agents, research station personnel, and others joined us to learn about cultural, disease, weed, and insect management in blackberries, blueberries, and grapes. Following remarks by NCSU CALS Research Director David Smith, Assistant NCDA & CS Commissioner Richard Reich, and station superintendent Jeff Chandler, attendees were loaded onto tractor trailers and cycled through presentations by NCSU extension specialists.

Gina Fernandez, NC State Horticulture Department, fresh off sabbatical in South Africa, discussed blackberry and raspberry variety selection and cultural management. Bill Cline, NC State Plant Pathology, covered blueberry disease management. Connie Fisk demonstrated proper muscadine grape training, and Katie Jennings shared information on weed management in small fruits. Both Connie and Katie are also in the NC State Horticulture Department. Roger Batts, from the IR-4 Program, who conducts much of his work at the Sandhills Station, explained IR-4's mission (more here) and detailed the new pesticides that will be soon available due to their work.

One of the highlights of the Small Fruits Field Day is the opportunity to taste in season fruits straight off the plant! Here attendees sample Kiowa blackberries, a thorny variety known for its large fruit. Photo: HJB

In addition to these presentation, I presented 2 of the projects we are working on at Sandhills. We have a spider mite management trial which is currently underway, and we are waiting for the Japanese and green June beetles to show up for a second trial. I will be placing Japanese beetle lures this Friday to foster a population--don't try this at home!

I also described a small blackberry psyllid trial we plan to begin and out ongoing spotted wing drosophila monitoring program. You can read more about blackberry psyllid here. This is an interesting, little studied potential pest of caneberries.

The field day was sponsored by FMC, DuPont, SunnyRidge, Valent, the North Carolina Commercial Blackberry and Raspberry Growers Association, and the North American Rasberry and Blackberry Association. Thanks to these sponsors for their generous support!

Hops in the southeast - a learning experience

Before there are cones, there are flowers. A hops bine as it begins its climb. Photo: HJB

I've recently connected with a group of NC State researchers working on hops production in NC and have begun arthropod surveys in the NC State research planting at the Lake Wheeler Research Farm and several grower locations in western NC. This Monday, I took a trip out to Lake Wheeler to see what might be moving around.

Developing hops cones, the harvested portion of the bine. Photo: HJB.

The most obvious pests currently present are Japanese beetles. This polyphagous, invasive insect is a voracious feeder on many commonly grown ornamental and food crops and appears to have developed a taste for hops.

Japanese beetle injury on hops foliage at Lake Wheeler. Photo: HJB

Beetle feeding along hops bine. Photo: HJB

Several of the bines had Japanese beetle injury on their foliage, and Rob Austin, NC State Soil Science, had treated with carbaryl (Sevin) dust, the white powder visible in the image above. Carbaryl and other conventional broad spectrum insecticides can be very effective against Japanese beetles (a note about pesticide recommendations), but organic pesticide options are limited. Many hops growers are interested in organic production. We do not know how severe of a pest Japanese beetles will be in hops, nor how much summer defoliation is "too much". So at this point, we do not have treatment recommendations for this pest.

As effective as carbaryl is for Japanese beetle, this material has the potential to flare spider mites, which can be an important and difficult to manage pest of hops. If Japanese beetles are present, scout carefully for mites before choosing which material to treat with. We have been monitoring spider mites at 2 western NC hops farms and have found very low populations to date. The populations at Lake Wheeler are higher, and Rob plans to follow up with a mite treatment this week.
Browning on developing hops cones. Photo: HJB

On Monday, we also noticed browning on the tips of developing cones, which several growers have also commented on. In western NC, this injury appears to be thrips related, although there were very few thrips at Lake Wheeler this week. I have also seen some online resources which have suggested that browning can be a sign of approaching harvest.

Arctiid moth caterpiller feeding on hops. Photo: HJB

Caterpillars of several generalist moth species have been observed in hops plantings this spring and early summer. Eastern coma caterpillars were found at several mountain farms, and were subsequently treated with Bt. I found the arctiid (tiger moth) caterpillar in the above photo on Monday. I do not think these generalists are of pest concern at this time, but may be locally problematic.

Young bines at Lake Wheeler. Photo: HJB

A hops field tour, which I will be participating in, is scheduled for July 31 in western NC. As this date approaches, I will be sharing more information.

More information
NC Hops Blog

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Blueberry maggot flies captured in Rockingham County, NC

In addition to our large scale blueberry maggot monitoring program in eastern North Carolina, we are also conducting trapping at 2 locations in Rockingham County, NC, with the cooperation of county agent, Kathryn Holmes. One of the locations has a history of blueberry maggot infestations, and was monitored last year to generate preliminary data on trapping methods. The second location does not have a history of blueberry maggot. Both locations have minimal insecticide programs.

Last week, on June 16th, 2 blueberry maggot flies were caught at 1 Rockingham County location. This was the second week of trapping in Rockingham County. In the first week, no flies were caught. We will continue to monitor these sites through at least the end of June, long if we continue catching flies. These trap captures are confirmation that blueberry maggots still occur in NC despite our low numbers in the main production region.

The 2 blueberry maggot flies captured in Rockingham County, NC on June 16th, 2010. One fly is female, and the other is male, as noted. The arrow highlights the ovipositor on the female fly, the key distinguishing feature between the 2 sexes. Photo: Kathryn Holmes.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Small Fruit Field Day reminder!

The NC State Small Fruits Field Day will be held June 22nd at the Sandhills Research Station, Jackson Springs, NC.  This field day will include presentations on blueberry and caneberry variety selection & culture; muscadine culture; disease, insect, and weed management; and much more.  We will also have blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries on hand to taste along with dinner, topped off with homemade blueberry ice cream.  This is always a well attended field day and will have topics of interest for homeowners, master gardeners, and growers alike.  No preregistration is required, and pesticide re certification credits will be available.

We will begin at 4pm with registration and hands on displays, and the formal program will begin at 4:30pm.

For more information
Contact Hannah Burrack or Julia Korengay  
Small Field Day post card (to print or share)

Blueberry day at the State Farmer's Market

This Thursday, June 10th, is blueberry day at the State Farmer's Market in Raleigh! The farmer's market highlights in season fresh fruit and vegetables throughout the season, and blueberry picking is in full swing! Harvest will continue through the July, but my favorite varieties, the southern highbush, are picked earlier and will probably be fully harvested by the end of June.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Blueberry maggot monitoring underway

Male blueberry maggot fly on an unripe blueberry. Photo: Jerry A. Payne, USDA Agricultural Research Service,

As part of a NC Blueberry Council, Inc. funded project to develop insect pest monitoring programs for blueberries, our lab has been trapping weekly to determine the population density of blueberry maggot (Rhagoletis mendax) in North Carolina blueberry growing regions.

The blueberry maggot is a true fruit fly (Family Tephritidae), with 1 generation per year in NC. Blueberry maggot has a narrow host range, feeding on commerical blueberries and their close wild relatives. Blueberry maggot can be an extremely serious pest in blueberries. The larvae (maggots) feed internally in fruit and damage can be very hard to detect on the surface. If left unchecked, blueberry maggot infestations can be extremely high, but in North Carolina, the extensive use of pesticides and relatively concentrated commerical blueberry growing region has resulted in suppression of blueberry maggot populations to below detectable levels in many areas.

Blueberry maggot larvae exiting fruit before pupation. Photo: Jerry A. Payne, USDA Agricultural Research Service,

Most large blueberry growers in NC export at least part of their crop to Canada, which imposes quarantine restrictions on blueberries imported from areas where blueberry maggot is found. In order to be accepted for import into Canada, growers must comply with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's phytosanitary requirements, which require 1 of 2 blueberry maggot management strategies be adopted. The Calendar Spray Program requires pesticide treatments (of any material registered for blueberry maggot and recommended by local extension personnel, in other words, me) begin at first trap capture and continue every 7-10 days through the end of harvest. The IPM Program requires that each farm be monitored for blueberry maggot flies with yellow sticky traps baited with an ammonia food lure at densities specified by the quarantine protocol. Growers in the IPM Program apply pesticide only if a blueberry maggot fly is caught and make a minimum of 2 applications. If no further flies are caught, pesticide applications cease until the next trap capture. The North Carolina Department of Food, Agriculture & Consumer Services (NCDA & CS) oversees the certification program for blueberry maggot and have 0nly worked with growers using the calendar program. See NCDA & CS's notification letter for this year here.  Our trapping effort is designed to provided both blueberry growers and NCDA & CS with the information necessary to allow interested growers to implement the IPM program in the coming years, and hopefully to reduce pesticide applications.

Yellow sticky (AM) trap baited with an ammonia lure. Photo: Michigan State University IPM

This program covers 14 separate fields which total just over 1500 acres in Bladen and Pender Counties and includes a total of 149 individual traps. Two additional sites in Rockingham County, NC are also be monitored because these locations have a history of blueberry maggot infestation, while our eastern NC sites have not had detectable blueberry maggot populations for at least the last 3 years.

To date, we have captured only 1 blueberry maggot fly, a male caught during the week of May 17th. The grower is certified by NCDA & CS under the calendar spray program, so he was scheduled to begin treatments that week and to continue treating weekly until the end of harvest. No additional trap captures at this, or any other, farm have occurred thus far. If trap captures remain this low through the remainder of the season, there is real potential to decrease the number of pesticide treatments applied in the future.

Blueberry maggot fly trap captures to date are updated weekly, and all changes can be seen in real time here.

For more information:
Phytosanitary requirements for the importation from the continental United States and for the the domestic movement of commodities regulated for blueberry maggot

Burrack Lab trapping data

NC Blueberry Council, Inc.