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Cooperative Extension: Maine Wild Blueberries


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Yarborough Talks to AP about Maine’s Blueberry Crop

David Yarborough, a wild blueberry specialist and horticulture professor at the University of Maine, spoke with the Associated Press about this year’s blueberry crop. Yarborough said Maine’s wild blueberry fields for the most part escaped widespread damage from a harmful new fruit fly during the summer harvest, resulting in what is expected to be an above-average crop. Boston Herald, The Bellingham Herald, Brattleboro Reformer, Portland Press Herald, WLBZ (Channel 2) and Boston.com were among several news organizations to carry the AP report.

Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD) September 3, 2013

SWD trap captures in Washington County remained steady and similar to last week. At the University of Maine Blueberry Hill Farm, we continue to capture anywhere from 1 to 30 flies per trap; and the proportion of fruit that have SWD larvae appears to be very low (less than 1 %) as we still have not detected any in our fruit samples.   

The harvest is beginning to wind down in many areas; however, if you still have fruit to harvest you should continue to monitor for this pest and protect your fruit if necessary. This is especially true in the southern and mid-coast part of Maine. In these regions fruit infestation is being found and individual trap captures range from 0 – 200 flies / trap with flies being caught in every field that is being monitored.

SWD captures were continuing to build in Michigan’s highbush blueberry fields last week. Most growers were getting very good control with the recommended insecticides, but some growers were suffering a breakdown and getting infested fruit with SWD…THEREFORE, IF YOU HAVE NOT HARVESTED AND SWD CAPTURES ARE BUILDING, YOU SHOULD BE CONSERVATIVE AND PROTECT YOUR CROP UNLESS YOU CAN HARVEST IT IN THE NEXT FEW DAYS.

WE WILL CONTINUE TO MONITOR TRAPS AND CHECK FOR FRUIT INFESTATION THIS WEEK.

NOTE:  Please refer any questions, comments or concerns to Frank Drummond, 1.800.897.0757 (Maine only) or 207.581.2989, frank.drummond@umit.maine.edu or to Dave Yarborough, 1.800.897.0757 or 207.581.2923, davidy@maine.edu.

SWD updates will only be sent out and posted on our blog when we have trap captures.

Yarborough Talks to BDN about Bountiful Blueberry Harvest

David Yarborough, a wild blueberry specialist and horticulture professor at the University of Maine, spoke with the Bangor Daily News for the article “Blueberry harvest looking bountiful.” Yarborough said berry size and yields are “average or above” but warned about the increased presence of the spotted wing drosophila, a fruit fly that attacks blueberries.

Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD) August 26, 2013

SWD trap captures continue to build throughout the state.  At the University of Maine Blueberry Hill Farm, we are now catching 10-30 flies/trap.  Traps in other areas downeast are now capturing 30+ flies/trap.  These SWD continue to be mostly females; however, males appear to be making up a larger percentage than in previous weeks.  The increasing trap captures is evidence of fly reproduction and subsequent fruit attack. The proportion of fruit that have SWD larvae still appears to be very low; we have not yet detected any in fruit samples.  

Please continue to monitor and protect your fruit if necessary from this pest. Also, it looks as if the early harvesting that has been taking place all over the state will certainly pay dividends this year if we can get much of the crop in before significant damage starts to be detected.   Just remember that based upon last year’s monitoring, this pest can explode in numbers very quickly from just a few flies to hundreds / trap…so do not relax too much!   This is especially true as we get close to September. Last year SWD trap captures by September were averaging 40-50 flies/trap! 

NOTE:  Please refer any questions, comments or concerns to Frank Drummond, 1-800-897-0757 (Maine only) or 581-2989, frank.drummond@umit.maine.edu or to Dave Yarborough, 1-800-897-0757 or 581-2923, davidy@maine.edu.

SWD updates will only be sent out and posted on our blog when we have trap captures.

Yarborough, Drummond, McCarty Quoted in Press Herald Blog about Blueberry Harvest

The latest post on the Portland Press Herald blog “The Root: Dispatches from Maine’s food sources” included quotes from three University of Maine Cooperative Extension educators about the state’s blueberry harvest. David Yarborough, a wild blueberry specialist, spoke about the efficiency of the Bragg Blueberry Harvester; Frank Drummond, an entomologist, spoke about the spotted wing drosophila and its negative effects on the crop; and Kate McCarty, food preservation community education assistant, shared a recipe for Honeyed Blueberry Vanilla Jam.

Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD) August 20, 2013

This summer appears to be a bit different than last year, the first year that we experienced SWD. It does appear that SWD is starting to build, evidence being multiple captures of 2-7 flies/trap with a few males being captured. However, the buildup appears to be slow and there are still several fields that have NOT captured any SWD yet. As far as blueberry growing regions go, SWD captures have occurred everywhere at this point with the highest numbers in the southern coastal area. Because of the evidence of reproduction in the field, resulting in fruit infestation, I suggest monitoring and if you have caught a single male SWD or multiple females then you should harvest that field immediately or protect it with an insecticide. I still believe we are safe from fields having significant damage as we have not been finding SWD larvae in fruit samples as of yet.

As I stated last week, please continue to monitor and protect your fruit if necessary from this pest. Also, it looks as if the early harvesting that has been taking place all over the state will certainly pay dividends this year if we can get much of the crop in before significant damage starts to be detected. Just remember that based upon last year’s monitoring, this pest can explode in numbers very quickly from just a few flies to hundreds/trap…so do not relax too much! 

NOTE:  Please refer any questions, comments or concerns to Frank Drummond, 1-800-897-0757 (Maine only) or 581-2989, frank.drummond@umit.maine.edu or to Dave Yarborough, 1-800-897-0757 or 581-2923, davidy@maine.edu.

SWD updates will only be sent out and posted on our blog when we have trap captures.

Drummond Quoted in TakePart Article on Climate Change Threatening Foods

Frank Drummond, entomologist at the University of Maine, was quoted in a TakePart article titled “Is climate change threatening Maine’s staple foods?” Drummond spoke about the spotted wing drosophila, a new fruit fly that is targeting the state’s blueberries. Drummond said the pests need to be monitored and managed, but harvesting berries earlier and using an experimental mesh trap could help keep the flies off the berries.

Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD) August 13, 2013

Trap captures of spotted wing drosophila continue to occur throughout the state, BUT appear to have jumped up a bit. There are still some fields that have not had trap captures and many have had just the 1 or 2 SWD. However, late last week  in southern Maine, trap captures jumped quickly with one small fruit field in Bowdoinham having over 200 SWD in a trap! Yesterday in Jonesboro we were finding 2-15 flies/trap in fields that a week ago just had either no captures or 1 SWD in a trap. Therefore, this is evidence that SWD are beginning to multiply in blueberries. The infestation must be still very low. We took fruit samples yesterday in the fields that had increasing SWD trap captures and we still did not detect larvae in the fruit and so the infestation is most likely spotty in the fields and at very low levels. However, from last year it became apparent that SWD can build up very rapidly.

Please continue to monitor and protect your fruit if necessary from this pest. Also, it looks as if the early harvesting that has been taking place all over the state will certainly pay dividends this year if we can get much of the crop in before significant damage starts to be detected.

NOTE: SWD updates will only be made when we have trap captures.  Please refer any questions, comments or concerns to Frank Drummond, 1-800-897-0757 (Maine only) or 581-2989, frank.drummond@umit.maine.edu or to Dave Yarborough, 1-800-897-0757 or 581-2923, davidy@maine.edu.

Drummond, Yarborough Talk to Media about Blueberry Growing, Harvest

Frank Drummond, entomologist at the University of Maine, and David Yarborough, wild blueberry specialist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, spoke with BangorMetro about growing blueberries in Maine. Drummond focused on increasing native pollinators and Yarborough spoke about the history of growing blueberries and Maine’s crop. Yarborough also spoke with the Bangor Daily News about this year’s crop for the article “Above-average blueberry harvest expected after heavy rains.” He talked about the large size of the blueberries, as well as growers’ concern of the spotted wing drosophila, a fruit fly that damages berries.

Yarborough Talks to AP about Harmful New Fruit Fly

David Yarborough, blueberry specialist for the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, spoke with the Associated Press about a new fruit fly posing a threat to the state’s blueberry crop. Yarborough said while growers are anxious about the flies, they’re doing what they can to monitor and control them. The Washington Post, Kennebec Journal and PhillyBurbs.com were among news organizations to carry the report.


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Contact Information

Cooperative Extension: Maine Wild Blueberries
5741 Libby Hall
Orono, Maine 04469-5741
Phone: 207.581.3188, 800.287.0274 (in Maine) or 800.287.8957 (TDD)E-mail: extension@maine.edu
The University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469
207.581.1110
A Member of the University of Maine System