swd

SWD ALERT!

spotted wing drosophila new york state berry growers association

SWD ALERT!

 

Cornell has reported sustained SWD catches in several counties. Numbers are not high yet, but have been increasing. Be vigilant in your trap and fruit monitoring, weeding, and irrigation/drainage, and employ a spraying routine that works with your picking schedule. Follow this basic guide:

  • Maintain an open canopy to increase sunlight and decrease humidity
  • Eliminate weeds within rows to increase sunlight penetration and improve spray penetration into and deposition on the canopy
  • Repair leaking drip lines and avoid overhead irrigation when possible. Allow the ground and mulch surface to dry before irrigating, and eliminate areas that encourage puddles.  
  • If you’ve set your own traps, check them regularly—daily, if possible. Females usually arrive first, but males are quick to follow.   
  • Check your fruit regularly. Pick groupings of 15-25 ripe fruit from different locations in your field, especially along the edges. Lightly squeeze each fruit. In a resealable bag, mix 1 cup salt and 1 gallon water. Add the fruit and mix well. After 30 minutes, check for small white larvae floating at the top. Repeat for each fruit grouping.
  • Apply pesticides every 5 to 7 days; repeat if it rains.
  • Rotate pesticides to prevent resistance.         

Visit Cornell's blog for detailed information on monitoring and growing best practices during SWD season. Download the university’s list of approved SWD insecticides here. 

The Berry Patch Pioneers Innovative Use of Exclusion Netting to Combat SWD

Berry Patch stephentown exclusion netting blueberries new york state berries

The Berry Patch Pioneers Innovative Use of Exclusion Netting

to Combat SWD

The Berry Patch, in tiny, rural Stephentown, has pioneered an innovative solution to spotted wing drosophila (SWD) infestation. Since it arrived in the United States in 2008, SWD has made it virtually impossible to grow commercially acceptable, pesticide-free raspberries and blueberries, but the Berry Patch’s experiments with exclusion netting seek to end crop losses.

Spotted wing drosophila is native to Southeast Asia. It first appeared in California in 2008, and spread to Florida the following year. By 2010, SWD had migrated to the Carolinas, Louisiana, Utah, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Northeastern fruit growers first went to battle with the insect in 2012, when an average of 80% of raspberry and 30% of blueberry crops—and approximately $4.3 million in revenue in NY state alone—were lost due to infestation of the fruit during its early ripening stages. Dale-Ila Riggs, co-owner of the Berry Patch and NYSBGA board chair, says, “This pest is a game-changer for berry growers nationwide. There are no natural enemies for it in the U.S.”

In 2012, Riggs lost about 40% of her lucrative blueberry crop to SWD. After observing some early research on the use of exclusion netting at Cornell University’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, she obtained a Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Farmer grant to test the use of the netting on her half-acre blueberry planting. Riggs adapted her existing bird-netting support system into a support system for the exclusion netting, with extra protections and anchoring to withstand thunderstorms, hail, and up to 60 mph winds. She then compared the fruits from the covered plot to the fruits grown in a control plot protected only with bird netting.

Berry Patch co-owner Dale-Ila Riggs adapted her existing bird netting structure to exclusion netting, with extra security features to help it withstand the volatile Northeastern climate.

Berry Patch co-owner Dale-Ila Riggs adapted her existing bird netting structure to exclusion netting, with extra security features to help it withstand the volatile Northeastern climate.

The results were startling. Riggs documented an infestation rate of 0.7% and 0.3% in 2014 and 2015, and last year had a 0% infestation rate—a rate virtually unheard-of in agricultural systems.  Other farms around the country are taking notice, and have started to duplicate the Berry Patch’s successful growing system.

Riggs will set up her blueberry exclusion netting again in early July, prior to SWD’s summer activity. She also plans to experiment with the same exclusion netting for her high-tunnel raspberry planting for the first time this year. “With SWD, no one has been able to grow pesticide-free berries that are free from infestation,” Riggs notes. “The netting makes it possible. This is a highly effective method that brings new hope for growers.”