What's HOT in Blueberry Production and Research

(Updated 1 June 2016)

Proposed pollinator protection plan

Honey bees have been at greater risk in recent years because of Colony Collapse Disorder, which results from a combination of stress factors.  In order to address this, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has created a draft plan to protect pollinators from pesticides has been developed.  In preparation for a June meeting in Richmond, grower, extension agent and beekeeper feedback is requested.  The draft plan is linked here.  A web application is mentioned in the text; this DriftWatch site is available here.  Please send your thoughts on this proposed program to Doug Pfeiffer (dgpfeiff at vt.edu) by June 12.  Any comments are appreciated!

Upcoming Meetings:
June 9 - Petersburg, VA:  2016 Small Farm Berry and Vegetable Field Day, Randolph Farm, Virginia State University. 8:00 AM - 2:00 PM. Flyer available hereREGISTER ONLINE AT: http://goo.gl/forms/7yGSFzRahf.  Please register by JUNE 2, 2016.    To register by phone or for more information, call (804) 524-5626.

New insecticide mode of action for spotted wing drosophila: A new insecticide has been approved by EPA, and received a state label in Virginia on 14, 2014.  Exirel has the common name cyantraniliprole, also known as cyazypyr.  This product is approved for bushberries, including blueberries, and stone fruits, including sweet and sour cherries.   The use rate for this pest on each of these crops is 13.5-20.5 fl oz per acre, with a 3 d PHI.  It is not approved for caneberries or grape.

Spotted wing drosophila:  A new invasive pest of small fruit crops and vineyards moved through Virginia in late summer 2011.  Spotted wing drosophila, Drosophila suzukii, differs from other species of vinegar or pomace flies in that it lays eggs in ripening fruit on the vine or plant, rather than in overripe or rotting fruit material.  This has the potential to be a major problem for growers of soft-fruited crops.  More information is posted in a SWD page in the Virginia Fruit web site.  Hear an Adobe Presenter presentation on spotted wing drosophila in vineyard and berry crops.  In May 2013, 24(c) labels were approved for malathion 8F for blueberries and caneberries grown in Virginia.  Blueberry: Allowing up to 2.5 pts/acre for spotted wing drosophila.  Maximum number of applications is 2, with a minimum of 5 days between applications.  Do not exceed a total maximum from all sources of malathion of 5 lb ai/acre/year.  Do not apply within 1 day of harvest.  Caneberries Allowing an additional application for spotted wing drosophila.  The maximum application rate is 2.0 pts/acre; the maximum number of applications per year is 4, and the minimum retreatment interval is 7 days.  Do not exceed a total maximum use rate of all sources of malathion of 8 lb ai/acre/year.  Do not apply within 1 day of harvest.

2016 Revisions to Pest Management Guide for Commercial Small Fruits:

The revised Pest Management Guide for Commercial Small Fruits now available. (The Pest Management Guide is available on-line for free. Hard copies are also available for $14.00 plus shipping.  Visit https://pubs.ext.vt.edu/pmgstore.html)). Tables of recommendations for commercial caneberries are also available in the fruit web page.

2016 Revisions to Home Fruit Spray Guide:

The revised Pest Management Guide for Home Small Fruits is now available. (The Pest Management Guide is available on-line for free. Hard copies are also available for $15.00 plus shipping.  Visit https://pubs.ext.vt.edu/pmgstore.html).

Spotted wing drosophila:  A new invasive pest of small fruit crops and vineyards moved through Virginia in late summer 2011.  Spotted wing drosophila, Drosophila suzukii, differs from other species of vinegar or pomace flies in that it lays eggs in ripening fruit on the vine or plant, rather than in overripe or rotting fruit material.  This has the potential to be a major problem for growers of soft-fruited crops.  More information is posted in a SWD page in the Virginia Fruit web site.  Hear an Adobe Presenter presentation on spotted wing drosophila in vineyard and berry crops.

Brown marmorated stink bug and Virginia fruit: See StopBMSB.org web site A new addition to the stink bug complex is brown marmorated stink bug, Halyomorpha halys (Stål).  Brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) has recently been introduced from Asia into the northeastern U.S.  It was first detected in 1998 in Allentown, Pennsylvania (see NAPIS map; this map underrepresents the situation in Virginia).  It was later found in New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware, and in October 2004 it was found in Montgomery County, Virginia, and in Tennessee in 2008.  Injury in tree fruits can be severe, exceeding 25% (individual blocks have been estimated to have much higher levels of fruit injury).  Externally, fruit may have multiple reddish dents at feeding sites, resembling hail strikes.  Upon cutting into fruit, corky areas are seen in the flesh of the fruit.  In vineyards, a unique problem is posed.  Stink bugs may be harvested along with clusters and be transported to the winery in lugs or bins, where the wine can be imparted with a "stink bug taint".  Research is underway to test short-residual insecticides to knock down BMSB from clusters at harvest.  For further information and images, see the Brown marmorated stink bug page.  A working group on organic management of BMSB has been established, with their own web site.  There is opportunity to participate in grower forums.  Listen to Adobe Presenter presentation on BMSB in vineyards and caneberries (14 min.).

Phaseout of azinphosmethyl continues:  On Aug 30, 2012, EPA confirmed the continued phaseout of azinphosmethyl (AZM), will the last uses on apple, blueberry, sweet and tart cherries, parsley and pears to be discontinued after Sep 30, 2012.  A modification relates to an extension of the period where existing stocks may be used, now until Sep 30, 2013.  "After considering comments from growers and other stakeholders, EPA has completed a final risk-benefit analysis for the remaining uses of the organophosphate insecticide azinphos-methyl (AZM). AZM can present health risks to workers and can cause negative ecological impacts, while effective alternatives to this insecticide are available to growers. EPA has decided to maintain the September 30, 2012, effective date for cancellation of the remaining uses of AZM, on apples, blueberries, sweet and tart cherries, parsley, and pears.
Due to unusual bad weather conditions in 2012, EPA will modify the cancellation order to allow growers to use only existing stocks of AZM in their possession for another year, through September 30, 2013. All the required mitigation measures now reflected on AZM labeling will remain in effect during this use. Distribution or sale of AZM after September 30, 2012, remains prohibited.  This decision will not result in greater use of AZM than originally anticipated, and provides a safer alternative to disposal arrangements.

First registered in 1959, AZM has been used to control insect pests on a wide variety of agricultural crops and on ornamentals, tobacco, and trees. In the late 1990s, EPA began reevaluating AZM with the full involvement of a wide range of stakeholders.  In 2001, certain uses were immediately canceled or phased out over a four-year period because of concerns regarding worker health and negative ecological impacts.  
In 2006, EPA announced a final decision to phase out the remaining ten AZM uses in three phases, with the last uses ending September 30, 2012. This phase-out helped facilitate the transition to safer alternatives, and includes mitigation measures such as reduced application rates and buffer zones around water bodies and occupied dwellings.  In July 2012, EPA released and sought comment on an updated grower impacts assessment for the remaining uses of AZM, which has been useful to the agency in developing this final decision on AZM.
EPA’s final AZM risk-benefit analysis will be available on the azinphos-methyl page in Chemical Search (www.epa.gov/pesticides/chemicalsearch/) and in docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2009-0365 at www.regulations.gov.  Further information is available in AZM docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2005-0061 at Regulations.gov."

New edition!
Mid-Atlantic Berry Guide - Produced by Penn State, Rutgers Univ., Univ. Delaware, West Virginia Univ., Univ. Maryland and Virginia Tech. Order through Penn State for $20.00.

Upcoming Meetings:

Endosulfan Phaseout:
In 2010, EPA issued a cancellation schedule for existing uses of endosulfan.  Crop Group A (including plum and prune, nectarine (CA only), strawberry (annual), tart cherry) uses ended 31 July 2012 .  Other uses not listed in other categories (presumably grape).  Crop Group B (Stone fruits not listed in Group A, including Nectarine (non-CA), peaches, and sweet cherry) uses ended 31 July 2012.  Crop Group C uses end 31 July 2013: PearCrop Group D uses end 31 July 2014: Florida uses.  Crop Group E uses will end 31 July 2015: Apple, blueberry.  Crop Group F uses end 31 July 2016: Strawberry (perennial).  See the complete list here.

Updates on FQPA:

carbaryl - EPA announces Interim Reregistration Eligibility Decision (IRED - this pdf exceeds 300p. See also 6-page fact sheet) for carbaryl on 10/27/04.  On 30 March 2005, National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) requested that EPA revoke all tolerances for carbaryl.  NRDC's letter to EPA is posted (html).  EPA's assessment of human health and environmental risks of carbaryl, and finding on whether the tolerances for carbaryl comply with the safety standard in FFDCA section 408, as amended by the FQPA, are contained in the IRED document for carbaryl, which is available on EPA's website at http://www.epa.gov/edocket, under docket number OPP-2003-0376. (More information on risk assessment is available).  The e-docket for this issue has several items listed (NRDC letter, notice of EPA of public comment period, public input, and an opportunity to provide input.  Public comments must be received by May 31, 2005.

spinetoram - A new active ingredient in the same class as spinosad (SpinTor, Entrust) has been registered for fruit crops. Delegate WG is registered on pome and stone fruits, bushberries, caneberries and grape.  Radiant SC is the formulation registered on strawberries

For some industry discussion on FQPA changes and issues, see Issues section of the CropLife America web site.

Pesticides in the news:


Response to Consumers Union Study, "Do You Know What You're Eating?"
The current issue (March 1999) of Consumer Reports contains a brief account of the recent study performed by Consumers Union. Although this article ("How Safe is our Produce?") probably will be much more visible to the public than the full accounts, it is really impossible to assess much about it because of its brevity. The claims of the short version are that current laws do not protect children from consuming dangerous amounts of pesticides, that such consumption is fairly common, and that one pesticide in particular, methyl parathion, is a major contributor to the problem of residues danger. The shortcomings are not readily apparent until the full account, entitled "Do You Know What You're Eating?" is examined. For a fuller account of this article, and a response, click here.
Other stories deal recently from the Consumer Reports issue: (Fruit Growers News link). On Thursday, Feb. 25, the U.S. Apple Assoc. held a press conference to address this issue. This release followed a statement by the Environmental Working Group that maintained that children are at risk from eating apples and peaches, and recommended parental choices away from these fruits. The Apple Association response provides a more balanced treatment of this emotional issue.

This is the latest is a series of developments relating to pesticides, starting with FQPA (see below). There have been two documents recently from Consumers Union, Worst First (html and PDF) and Do You Know What You're Eating? (html and PDF) (PDF files require Adobe Acrobat to download). A basic premise of Worst First is that the most hazardous uses are already declining and alternatives to these materials are already available or nearly so (therefore there should be no opposition to loss of these materials through FQPA). The report contains many oversimplifications however, and alternatives are actually not as ready as portrayed.

One area of risk that has been attributed to certain pesticides is estrogen disruption. This has been one cateogry to have been addressed by FQPA. However, an early report of this effect, published in the journal Science, has been retracted. How this retraction affects the public debate is yet to be seen. The "risk" is still claimed in discussions on the web and elsewhere.

A series of pesticide profiles are currently under development for Virginia apples.

New Pesticide Legislation - Updates on FQPA:

The Food Quality Protection Act became law in 1996. This revision of FIFRA contained elements that pleased environmental and agricultural groups. The Delaney Clause is abolished, replaced with a concept of reasonable risk. Increased attention is given to high risk groups, primarily young children.

Many in the industry regarded this as a benefit of the new legislation. However, it is increasingly apparent that many commonly used pesticides are at risk of being eliminated or their use restricted. Of most immediate concern are the organophosphate and carbamate insecticides.

New!  The College of Agriculture and Life Science at Virginia Tech has established a new on-line Master's in Agriculture and Life Sciences.   This curriculum has been approved by the State Council of Higher Education and is now accepting applications for Fall semester 2007.  In this program, you can earn a master's degree in agriculture while working in your current job - emphasis is on education for place-bound learners, and all courses are taken on-line.  In addition to a core area, there are courses offered in five areas of concentration: (1) Biosecurity, Bioregulations and Public Health, (2) Education, (3) Environmental Science, (4) Food Safety, and (5) Plant Science and Pest Management.  In addition to course work, the student completes a project decided upon in consultation with your major advisor.  Lists of courses within each concentration may be found in the web site linked above.  This program was recently the subject of an interview by Jeff Ishee with Virginia Public Televsion's Virginia Farming.  For more information, contact Doug Pfeiffer (dgpfeiff at vt.edu) or Sharon Proffitt (sproffit at vt.edu) (see 2008-2009 Extended Campus tuition rates).

Archived meetings:
Virginia Berry Conference:  The 6th Annual Virginia Berry Production and Marketing Conference was held on the Virginia State University campus on March 14, 2013.  See the program linked here.

Southeastern Vegetable and Fruit Conference - Savannah GA - Jan 10-13, 2013


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Send comments by e-mail to: Douglas G. Pfeiffer