by Esther Kibbe, WNY Berry Specialist with Harvest NY
This is the time of year when berry growers are often focused on other projects – especially if berries are only a small part of your farming operation. If you haven’t taken a close look at your berries recently, here is what I’ve been seeing:
Blueberries: Harvest has finished or is in late varieties. SWD pressure has been challenging on many farms, with some larvae found even in sprayed fruit. However, managed fields have far less infestation than non-sprayed ones. In parts of WNY, this has been a challenging year for fruit anthracnose, with rain, humidity and heat through ripening and harvest. These conditions encouraged the development of full fruit symptoms, which might be delayed or overlooked in a drier season. The disease also causes lesions on leaves and stems, which provide inoculum for infection next year. If you saw a lot of affected fruit, consider a robust fungicide program for the next few years, to reduce the inoculum present in your field.
Raspberries: I don’t see many fall raspberry (primocane) plantings anymore – seems most people have decided not to fight late summer SWD. Summer raspberries (floricane) are finished, but shouldn’t be ignored. With hot, dry
conditions in some areas, this has been a challenging season for two-spot spider mites. With high populations they can turn the leaves a yellow or rusty color – don’t assume this is declining floricanes or a nutrient issue. Look for fine webbing on the back of the leaves (in severe cases) and/or tiny pale mites with 2 dark spots on their backs – a hand lens is helpful.
Strawberries: I haven’t seen any day-neutral (everbearing) strawberries in my region – let me know if you have them and would like a visit! June-bearing strawberries are in their summer growth phase, and will be starting bud development as day-lengths and temperatures decrease into the fall. If you haven’t
applied fall fertilizer yet, it is almost too late. New plantings are looking good, where weeds have been controlled and irrigation applied. Potato leafhopper damage is apparent in most fields, from minor to severe. It is easy to spot the pale green hoppers on the backs of leaves. A new finding for me – red-headed flea beetles causing significant feeding damage. These are favored by mild winters, weedy fields, and previous susceptible crops in the same site. The damage looks similar to strawberry rootworm beetles, but the beetles themselves are quite different. Strawberry rootworm beetles are more round, brown and shiny, and can be hard to find, while the flea beetles are black, with a longer, thinner body, and are more likely to be active on the plants during the day.