What's HOT in Strawberry Production and Research

(Updated 14 March 2018)

Spotted lanternfly a new invasive concernA new invasive pest of small fruit crops and vineyards moved into eastern Pennsylvania in 2014, and has been spreading.  In 2017, the range increased from 6 to 13 Pennsylvania counties, and also into Delaware, New York and northern Virginia.  Specimens of dead adults and egg masses were found in January 2018 (actually 2017 individuals).  This pest poses an important risk for grape, orchard and tree crops.  Click here for an Adobe Presenter talk on this species.  A fact sheet is available from Virginia Tech (a USDA fact sheet is available in Spanish).  Now that spotted lanternfly has been found in Virginia, it will be important to follow its spread through the state.  To report a suspected find, please follow this linkhttps://ext.vt.edu/spotted-lanternfly.

Fruit Insect Blog for current information of fruit insects! 
Visit https://virginiafruitinsectupdates.blogspot.com/.

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.


2017 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.

2017 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.).

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.


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.   (see 2017-2018 Extended Campus tuition rates).

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.

Archived meetings:



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