Grand Rapids, Mich., area small fruit regional report – July 2, 2013

Summer strawberry harvest is entering its final phase and blueberries are taking over. This is the critical time for controlling major pests and disease that could impact profits due to fruit rejections and downgrading.

This summer has been a very busy season for strawberry growers across west Michigan. In general, the strawberry crop has been abundant with a few exceptions, and most U-pick operations are full of customers ready to enjoy Michigan’s fresh berries. So far, some growers are running out of berries and had to close for two or three days to allow the fruit to mature to provide their clientele with high quality fruit.

As strawberry harvest is entering its final phase, blueberry harvest has started in Michigan’s southern counties. The harvest of some early season varieties started the past week with fruit of very good quality. This is the result of the good weather conditions that have prevailed for the most part of the season. Summer raspberries are also coming along and fruit ripening is in progress.

With the ripening of most small fruit crops comes along problems related to insect pests and diseases that need to be carefully watched to avoid bad surprises at harvest time. Presently, there are a few problems in strawberries. With the exception of some problems associate with the presence of the strawberry root weevils and fruit rots that included Botrytis and leather rot, most of the season has been without problems. However, spotted wing Drosophila (SWD) has started showing up more frequently in strawberries than in the previous years.

In 2012, there were a few cases of fields with presence of SWD, but only at the end of the season in day-neutral strawberries. Currently, SWD has been found in strawberry fields in Allegan and Ottawa counties in small numbers. Although at this time SWD may not represent a serious problem for strawberry growers, left unattended it may become a serious problem for day-neutral varieties and for other small fruit crops like raspberries, blackberries and blueberries among others. Michigan State University Extension has developed a recommendation for chemical control of SWD in strawberries. For products and recommended dose, please consult the MSU Extension Bulletin E-154, “2013 Michigan Fruit Management Guide.”

Regarding blueberries, this is the critical time for controlling major pests and diseases that affect this crop. At this moment, it is important that growers pay attention to two pests that may cause extensive economic losses due to fruit rejections and downgrading of their fruit: blueberry maggots and SWD. So far, the SWD has been found in blueberries in Allegan County, but no fruit damage has been found. For updates and recommendation on SWD control, please see the MSU Spotted Wing Drosophila website.

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