FEBRUARY: This is typically when Maine growers will apply sand (if needed). A recent study out of Massachusetts has researchers there recommending that a good all-around canopy management strategy appears to be this: Sand every 5 to 6 years, with pruning in between. For the least impact on yield, the study found that whenever a sanding or pruning is done, it should be done on the light side (~half inch of sand in the case of sanding, and a single pass with the pruner in the case of pruning). You can view a summary of the study here: MS Word (50.5 Kb) ||pdf (53.1 Kb)
- FROST PROTECTION: Know the tolerance levels for your variety or varieties, and monitor your bud stage throughout the month (use the bud stage that the majority of your vines are showing).
- MID to LATE APRIL: Pre-emergence herbicides need to be applied before cranberry vines break dormancy. For a list of herbicides, and individual target weeds, check the weeds portion of the Maine Cranberry Pest Management Guide.
- LATE APRIL: Late Water (LW) flood (MS Word) (pdf). Do not apply a Late Water flood if the buds have broken dormancy, or if the winter has been severely cold and long, oxygen deficiency conditions are suspected, or if the bed has been sanded since the preceding fall. Provides very good control of fruit rot fungi and boosts keeping quality; Kills overwintering Cranberry Fruitworm and may eliminate the need for sprays for this insect during the LW year (Expect 90% or more Cranberry Fruitworm control if flood is held for 4 weeks, 40-50% control if shorter duration); Virtually wipes out Southern Red Mite infestations; May suppress False Armyworm and Gypsy Moth larval populations; Can delay the development of weeds (suppresses growth of some perennials, most notably brambles) (LW does not control dodder);
- After terminal bud has broken dormancy & begun to swell or grow: The approximate window for spraying for UPRIGHT DIEBACK control is April 30 – May 20. For Washington County growers, the target window is likely a bit later (May 6 – 26). But, exact timing depends on whether the variety is early or late-season. Remember, too, that if a chlorothalonil application is used at this time, that leaves only two more available that you can use for fruit rot control. For a list of available fungicides you can use, and details about the disease, consult the Maine Cranberry Pest Management Guide. NOTE: Bravo® does not control upright dieback if applied later than early bloom—by this time the fungus has apparently invaded shoots and is out of reach of the material. Fungicides will not cure upright dieback but will prevent the spread of the infection.
- Callisto® for weeds just starting to emerge: (best if <5″ tall, yet growing actively) (~From May to 45 days before harvest or flooding, and not during bloom) Callisto® is reportedly an extremely good choice for weed control, having both pre-emergence activity as well as post-emergence activity (especially when weeds are <5″ tall), and you are encouraged to wait for that stage. If you apply too early, some weeds with vast root systems–such as cinquefoil–can quickly recover. Thus, for cinquefoil, wait until the first flush of new growth has taken place. The maximum application rate is 8 oz/acre/application; no more than two apps. per season, and split apps. need to be at least 14 days apart. Callisto® is effective against a large number of different weeds (will control most all annual broadleaf weeds if under 5″ tall), but plan on several years of treatment in order to achieve permanent control of many perennial weeds, especially yellow loosestrife/swamp candles. Birdsfoot trefoil and other Lotus members are very sensitive to Callisto® (but more difficult to control if they are completely covering over the cranberry canopy). Cranberry vines are highly tolerant of Callisto® – they can readily metabolize its active ingredient (mesotrione).
- ~May 14 – May 31 (vegetative buds elongated 1/2″ and flowering buds at bud break stage): Cranberry tipworm begins! (Flies appear first, followed by eggs and larvae once new tips begin to grow) Overwintering pupae will be hatching out into flies (the length of this period is a bit uncertain and probably varies from year to year). Individual flies only live for about 3 days (5 at most), so right out of the gate they are busy mating and laying eggs on the terminal leaves of uprights (mostly on the tips of brand new uprights sprouting up from the runners). The more dormant the upright, the less likely its chances of being chosen for egg deposition by the female tipworm fly. Conventional wisdom is to treat at the peak of egg hatch, or slightly before that period in the case of any material that provides a good residual or has systemic activity. The window for either of these timings is somewhat narrow. Degree day model (From 2007 – 2009 work): Using a base temperature of 50°F, an estimated 228 degree days are needed. Some Sweepnet First Dates (for flies): 5/14/07 in Mt. Vernon; 5/28/07, 5/16/08, and 5/13/09 in Troy; 5/16/08 in Lincolnville.
~May 20th - Early June (tip elongation):
- False Armyworm larvae begin (If no Late Water flood was used). These cutworms have been consistently found in significant numbers on Maine cranberry beds annually. The larvae feed on leaves, stems and buds (basically consume entire uprights), and get quite big when mature (2” long), at which point (late June into July) they feed almost exclusively at night. Sweepnet First Dates (Average First Date = May 24th): 6/6/97, 5/28/98, 5/28/99, 5/24/00, 5/31/01, 5/13/02, 5/24/05, 5/25/07, 5/14/08, 5/14/09
- 1st-generation Blackheaded fireworm larvae begin! Spend some time visually scanning for upright tips with terminal leaves that have been webbed tightly together! Break off any tip of that sort, and carefully tease apart the terminal leaves. If a small larva suddenly squirms out, wriggling backwards and possibly right across your hand and down to the ground (often attached to a strand of silk)…and if this happens before you’ve even blinked, then you’ve probably encountered a fireworm larva. You should then sweep to see if you pick up any in your net. They do not get picked up in sweeps very easily, so if you average even ONE larva per 25 sweeps, you may well be justified in taking action (depending on your history with this pest, your expected crop value, etc.). View the Maine Cranberry Pest Management Guide for the most current recommended Action Threshold (AT) to consider using (traditional AT is 1), and for a list of control materials. Infestations of 2nd-generation larvae are far more dangerous, because their numbers are much higher, especially, of course, if any 1st-generation populations are left uncontrolled. Infestations of both generations are usually patchy, at least at first, and larvae tend to be more numerous along edges. Spot-treatment is desirable in such cases. Some Sweepnet First Dates (1st-generation larvae) (Average First Date = May 24th): 6/12/06, 5/25/07, 5/14/08, 5/14/09
- All of June: Cranberry Tipworm
- All of June: Cranberry Weevil (spring brood)
- All of June: False Armyworm larvae
- All of June: Blackheaded Fireworm larvae
- All of June: Cranberry Blossomworm larvae (Average Start Date for Maine = May 29th but most often they begin to appear in early June)
- All of June: Blunt-nosed Leafhopper (nymphal stages): First seen in 2009 (two locations – outbreak at one location). This is a sucking insect, and most of the feeding is done throughout the nymphal stages, when they are wingless (only the adults have wings). The nymphs need to molt a total of five times before becoming adults, and this development period lasts about one month (essentially all of June and possibly into the early part of July for some Maine locations). In high numbers, leafhoppers will drain the vines significantly (robbing the stems of water and sugar), but most importantly, it is a known carrier of the plant phytoplasm (virus-like pathogen) known as False Blossom, which threatened the entire cranberry industry nationwide in the early 1900s and was so bad in New Jersey that it is said to have nearly ended their cranberry industry there altogether. Rare pockets of False Blossom are still found in wild bogs on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. You can learn more about this pest on pages 61 to 63 of A.L. Averill & M.M. Sylvia’s book, Cranberry Insects of the Northeast [book can be ordered from the UMass Cranberry Station by clicking here].
First Week of June (plus or minus one week): Gypsy Moth caterpillars begin to show up on beds, mostly blown in from forested areas though they can also overwinter right on the beds. Their numbers can be fairly numerous in some years, although zero were seen during the entire 2009 season by UMaine Extension’s Cranberry Professional. Add the number of these larvae to any cutworms and humped green fruitworms found when using a thresholds table. This insect is cyclic and in the past has undergone major outbreaks every 9 to 10 years in the northeastern U.S. and Canada. The larva is one of North America’s most devastating forest pests (especially fond of oak and aspen). It has no problem eating cranberry foliage as well. Check for patchy infestations that can be spot-treated, e.g. along bed edges facing trees that might be infested. Check any previously infested areas. Early detection is key: larvae consume terminal buds and any new growth that has begun. Some Sweepnet First Dates: 5/29/00, 5/20/01, 6/13/02, 6/12/06, 6/6/07, zero found in 2009. Learn more about gypsy moth [courtesy of UMass]
Late June: Spanworms become increasingly abundant
- Cranberry Tipworm (overlapping generations and life stages) (especially prevalent if vine growth is excessive)
- Gypsy Moth caterpillars
- Cranberry Fruitworm egg-hatch
- False Armyworm larvae (mostly large in size by this time, and thus feeding mostly at night)
- Some remaining (late) 1st-generation Blackheaded Fireworm larvae (but populations probably mostly pupating during July, with subsequent 2nd-generation caterpillars starting in August)
- Blunt-nosed Leafhopper ADULTS: First seen in 2009 (two locations – outbreak at one location). This is a sucking insect, though the adults–compared to the developing nymphs–do not feed very much and so are very difficult to control with any insecticides whereby ingestion is the primary mode of action. In high numbers, leafhoppers will drain the vines significantly (robbing the stems of water and sugar), but most importantly, it is a known carrier of the plant phytoplasm (virus-like pathogen) known as False Blossom, which threatened the entire cranberry industry nationwide in the early 1900s and was so bad in New Jersey that it is said to have nearly ended their cranberry industry there altogether. Rare pockets of False Blossom are still found in wild bogs on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. You can learn more about this pest on pages 61 to 63 of A.L. Averill & M.M. Sylvia’s book, Cranberry Insects of the Northeast [book can be ordered from the UMass Cranberry Station by clicking here].
- Cranberry Tipworm (any remaining larval stages will finally begin to wind down for the year by month’s end)
- 2nd-Generation Blackheaded Fireworm larvae (this is the generation to really watch out for, particularly if you saw threshold levels–or higher–of 1st-generation larvae and are uncertain as to the effectiveness of any control actions you may have taken earlier in the season)
- All of August: Cranberry Fruitworm larvae
- Late August: Red-headed Flea Beetles (adults) – Large outbreak found in 2009 on August 25th (not spotted on Maine cranberries in previous years). Sweep lightly across the tips to avoid harvesting berries, or do the bulk of the sweeping in areas where you have fewer berries). They are very patchy, often occurring in areas where the vines are lush (so probably fewer berries there as well). High levels of them can impact bud development for the following year. They feed primarily on the undersides of the leaves, consuming the outer surface layers and leaving only the veins behind. They also will gouge the berries. Firm thresholds for this pest have not been quantified, but sweep net counts of 15 per 25 sweeps on average over all acreage is the current rule of thumb. The counts seen in 2009 were in the range of 50 to 100 per 25 sweeps!
- Cranberry Tissue Testing: Tissue samples should be taken during the last two weeks of August or during the first week or two of September. The reason for this is that the concentrations of the 13 required minerals (macronutrients) are stable during this period. Also, the standard values against which the results are compared are based on sampling that was done during this period.
SEPTEMBER – OCTOBER:
- FROST PROTECTION: Know the tolerance levels for your variety or varieties, and monitor your berry color (go with the color that the majority of your berries are showing).
- Late September – October: HARVEST TIME (check out the harvest tips section)
- Plan your harvest water flow from bed to bed such that, if possible, water is not moved from disease-infested or weed-infested beds into clean beds or less infested beds.
- Trash Flooding: Flooding after harvest is a good means of removing ‘trash’ — i.e. dead cranberry leaves, twigs, and bruised berries. On a windy day, the ‘trash’ will be driven to a corner or edge where it can be skimmed from the water and then disposed of at a location far from the bed. Dead leaves and leftover berries serve as a source of disease inoculum and provide habitat for insect pests. Removing this material may reduce how often you need to sand.
- Post-Harvest Flooding: Ongoing research in Massachusetts (and grower practice) is finding that flooding for up to 4 weeks post-harvest suppresses dewberry plants and cranberry fruitworm. In some studies, mortality of overwintering cranberry fruitworm (in their hibernacula/cocoons on the bed) was close to 100%. No reduction of the crop has been reported after several years of experimentation with this particular flood.
- Should I use any fertilizer during this time? Fall Fertilizer: (MS Word) (pdf)
- Thoroughly clean all equipment used for harvest. Use a pressure washer to clean debris from tractors, beaters, blowers, conveyers, berry pumps, booms, trucks, gondolas, etc. As you clean note anything that needs to be repaired, re-engineered, or painted.
- Throw out or recycle junk that is no longer useful to you. Don’t let junk pile up around the farm. Inventory fasteners, welding supplies, lubricants, solvents, filters, etc. Do you have needed items on hand which might reduce emergency trips to town?
- Take a few moments to review your production records such as fertilizer and pesticide applications and make sure they are legible and accurate. Make a copy to store in another secure location besides your primary office.
- Take a few moments to consider harvest. What went well? What didn’t work very well that is under your control? Did vital equipment break down? If so, what can be done to avoid similar problems next year?
- Consider having an employee roundtable (if applicable to your situation) where all are free to reflect on the entire crop season providing feedback on what went well and what didn’t. Invite employees to offer suggestions of what might be done differently in the future.
- Review your nutrient management plan. Did your actual application of nutrients follow your plan? How did you decide to vary from your plan? What criteria did you use to make your decision(s)? How will this change your plan for the future?
- Have you mapped where you had problems with specific weeds? If you know where the troublesome weeds were can you use that information to make better weed management decisions next year?
- Ponder mistakes that were made with regard to pest management, personnel management, fertilizer, irrigation, drainage, etc. What policies or approaches could change next year to good advantage?
- Inventory any of your unused fertilizer or pesticides. Make sure pesticides are appropriately stored in a clean, dry and secure location. Ideally, pesticides are stored in a location separate from machinery, etc.
- Check the oil, tire pressure, brake fluid, steering fluid and other hydraulics on all equipment and fill as necessary.
- Continue to monitor weather through the fall and be prepared to flood beds or irrigate if precipitous temperature drops are forecast.