What's HOT in Strawberry Production and Research

(Updated 22 May 2021)

Southeastern Strawberry School Webinar Series:

The Southern Region Small Fruit Consortium, in which Virginia Tech is a member, has organized the Southeastern Strawberry School Webinar Series. These webinars will take place throughout 2021. This series is hosted by the University of Arkansas in collaboration with university specialists from across the southeastern region. This webinar series is sponsored by the Southern Region Small Fruit Consortium and is open *free* to county agents, and growers.  Follow this link for more details, and information on how to sign up.

2021 Berry School:

A two-day, on-line berry school was scheduled for Feb 18-19 but has been rescheduled for March 4-5 because of weather.  The flier is linked here with more information. Follow this link to register for the 2021 Virginia Berry School, https://www.ext.vsu.edu/events/2021/02/18/berry-school. This two day event will provide information about the production potential, and health benefits of berry crops, including blueberry and blackberry. Please share this information with interested individuals.
Spotted lanternfly a new invasive concern: Update on range expansion

Spotted lanternfly egg first hatch for 2021 was reported on 28 April. First adult emergence for 2021 was noted on 9 July. This new invasive pest of small fruit crops and vineyards moved into eastern Pennsylvania in 2014, and has been spreading.  The Pennsylvania quarantine zone for 2020 added 12 new counties, bringing the total to 24 counties in that state.  This infestation now reaches the Ohio border.  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 Winchester in January 2018 (actually 2017 individuals).  In 2020, the Winchester infestation became more intense, and spread to Gore in the western part of Frederick County, and into central Clarke County in November.   This included the first collection at a commercial vineyard.  There is a reproducing population in Augusta County, with individual insects found in Warren and Page counties.  The quarantine has been expanded to include Frederick, Clarke and Warren counties. Spotted lanternfly is now found in Albemarle, Augusta, Fauquier, Madison, Page, Prince William, Rockingham, Shenandoah and Warren counties, plus the City of Lynchurg. Spotted lantern fly is now established in New Jersey, Ohio, Delaware and Maryland, and has been reported from two counties in West Virginia.  This pest poses an important risk for grape, orchard and tree crops.  Click here for a recorded talk on this species.  A fact sheet is available from Virginia Tech (a USDA fact sheet is available in Spanish).  In addition, there is a Virginia Tech Pest Alert, with additional information on recognition and reporting (this is also available in Spanish).  Specific fact sheets for vineyards and residential areas have been posted.  Now that spotted lanternfly has been found in Virginia, it will be important to follow its spread through the state.   For a current Virginia map, click here  To report a suspected find, please follow this linkhttps://ask2.extension.org/widget.html?team_id=1981?default_location=VA?default_county=All.

VDACS establishes quarantine for spotted lanternfly

Late Tuesday afternoon (5/28), Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) announced the establishment of a quarantine for spotted lanternfly (SLF), an invasive pest insect that was found in Winchester in January 2018 (ext.vt.edu/spotted-lanternfly).  This insect threatens to be a major pest of fruit crops, forest trees, and other plants in Virginia.  Despite an eradication effort in 2018, SLF increased its distribution from about 1 square mile to 16 square miles.  This year, the overwintering eggs began their hatch on April 27, earlier than last spring.

The press release on the SLF quarantine linked here.  A direct link to the quarantine document is linked here as well.  The regulated area includes the City of Winchester and Frederick County.  Some of the key provisions of the quarantine are:

1) Regulated articles (plants, outdoor industrial materials, shipping containers, outdoor household articles, and others) may be moved from the quarantine area if they have been inspected, and are accompanied by a permit;

2) Regulated articles may be moved within the quarantine area following an inspection; a certificate is not required.

3) From April 1-Dec 31, regulated articles may be moved through the regulated are without stopping, or stopping only for fuel or traffic conditions.

4) To obtain a permit to move regulated articles, a person doing business must complete a VDACS-approved training (see below) and agree to train employees on identification of SLF.

The training needed to obtain a SLF permit is available online.  There is a $6.00 fee.
For questions on the quarantine and related issues:

For questions about the quarantine or movement of material or trucks, or the compliance agreement, call VDACS.  Call the Richmond number (804-786-5525) even if its a question about the Winchester area.

For questions about the training for the SLF Detection Credentials, go to:  ext.vt.edu/spotted-lanternfly
Look for a purple button the right side of the page to start the process.

For suspected finds of SLF, go to either the detection portal:

which is also linked through the SLF page:  ext.vt.edu/spotted-lanternfly
or contact their local extension office: https://ext.vt.edu/offices.html
For questions about the training modules, contact Eric Day or Tree Dellinger, 540-231-4899 or idlab@vt.edu
If a caller's web page will not load, direct them to VT 4Help: https://vt4help.service-now.com

I'll be posting more on this later.

2021 Revisions to Fruit Pest Management recommendations:

The revised Pest Management Guide for Home Fruit, Commercial Vineyards, Commercial Small Fruits, and Hops, are now available.  The tree fruit manual, separate from the Pest Management Guide series, is in production, and we hope to have it ready for our fruit schools.

The guides are available free online in PDF, and will also be available for purchase.

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:

VSU Berry School - held at VSU's Randolph Farm Pavilion, March 12-13, 2020.  See program.
Southeastern Fruit and Vegetable Conference will be held in Savannah GA, Jan 7-10, 2020.

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:

Corteva to cease production and sale of chlorypyrifos:
On Feb 6, Coreteva announced it will cease production and sale of chlorpyrifos, the active ingredient in Lorsban.  The statement cited economic factors.  This material has been in the news lately, for human health and regulatory concerns.  In November 2015, EPA announced its plan to revoke all tolerances because of neurodevelopmental problems resulting from neonatal exposure.  However, the plan was subsequently reversed following a call for more comments in November 2016, finalized in July 2019.

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