Strawberries: harvest is in full swing, with fruit ripening quickly. Reports are coming in of strong demand for picked and U-pick fruit and solid prices. Crowd control and social distancing has been a challenge on some farms.
Fruit size is smaller than normal, though fields with irrigation are doing better. Late varieties seem to be sizing up better than the early berries. Fruit quality has generally been good, probably helped by dry weather. However, in some fields without irrigation, plants have become dry and stressed and the berries are small, almost shriveled. Most fields have some strawberries with sunscald, especially where foliage is sparse. This can look very similar to leather rot, but is the more likely primary issue under dry conditions. Tarnished plant bug and slug damage can be found in some fields (especially organic or low-spray). I haven’t seen leafhopper damage yet, but there are reports of it around – be on the lookout for mottled and misshapen leaves. With SWD catches increasing rapidly, strawberries are at risk, particularly late-ripening varieties such as Malwina and AC Valley Sunset.
Blueberries: Fruit is sizing up well in most areas, though some plantings without irrigation have been struggling. There are Phomopsis canker hits in some
plantings, as well as some late mummyberry infections. This is the time to put out blueberry maggot traps, particularly if you have had this pest in the past. Using a protein bait can attract them before they are ready to lay eggs, and gives an earlier warning to spray for them. I saw Plum Curculio damage in an organic field – look for berries turning blue prematurely, and a crescent shaped scar where the females laid the egg. Remember to apply any Nitrogen fertilizers before July 1.
Brambles: Raspberries are starting to ripen in early varieties (and on stressed plants). They will be the most attractive host for SWD, and with early trap catches this season it will likely be a bigger problem in floricane (summer) raspberries than usual. Don’t forget that brambles need water too.