Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Sweet Corn IPM Newsletter No. 1 – June 27, 2014

Friday, June 27th, 2014

Sweet Corn

Sweet Corn IPM Newsletter No. 1 – June 27, 2014

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2014 SWEET CORN PEST SEASON BEGINS!

European Corn Borer Moths Active, Larvae Feeding in Early Corn

The 2014 University of Maine Cooperative Extension Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program for sweet corn is underway. More than twenty volunteer farms are serving as pest monitoring and demonstration sites, with fields in North Berwick, Wells, Dayton, Cape Elizabeth, New Gloucester, Poland Spring, Auburn, Lewiston, Sabattus, Nobleboro, Warren, Monmouth, Wales, Wayne, Oxford, Farmington, Levant, Stillwater, Garland and East Corinth. Pheromone traps have been set up at these farms to monitor the adult (moth) stages of European corn borer, corn earworm and fall armyworm, and we have begun scouting the fields for feeding injury by insect larvae. The information collected at these sites along with management recommendations will be shared every week during the season through this newsletter and blog. If you would prefer to receive this newsletter via e-mail, give us a call at 207.933.2100 or send an e-mail message to: pamela.stpeter@maine.edu.

European Corn Borer Scouting

European Corn Borer Scouting, photo by David Handley

SITUATION
Farmers with well-drained fields were able to get some early plantings going in spite of a rather cool, wet start to the season. Early seedings started under clear plastic or fabric row covers are now in the pre-tassel to tassel stage, with one southern field already starting to show some silk. In spite of the wet conditions during the spring, some fields are starting to get a bit dry, so the recent rain was quite welcome. Warmer weather predicted for next week should speed up plant development. European corn borer moths have been active in some fields, as evidenced by some light feeding damage we have seen in some pre-tassel fields this week.

European corn borer:  We have set up pheromone traps for European corn borer this week, and we’ll start reporting on moth activity in the next issue. We found some feeding injury and very small larvae in pre-tassel fields this week, indicating that moths are now laying eggs on the undersides of corn leaves. The egg masses are small and look like overlapping fish scales. European corn borer overwinters in Maine, and is usually the first pest to become a significant problem. To monitor corn borer, we scout 100 corn plants in each field, examining twenty plants in a row at five different locations. This provides a good estimate of the total amount of injury in a field.

European Corn Borer Moth

European Corn Borer Moth, photo by David Handley

European Corn Borer Damage on Pre-tassel Stage corn

European Corn Borer Damage on Pre-tassel, photo by David Handley

In the early stages, European corn borer feeding damage looks like small “pinholes” in the leaves. Whorl stage corn only needs to be sprayed if fresh feeding injury is found on 30% or more of the plants scouted in a field. Once the corn reaches the pre-tassel stage, the control threshold is lowered to 15% because larvae feeding on the later stages are more likely to move into the ears. On the tassels, feeding damage first appears as chewing and brown waste found in the small florets. After the tassel has emerged from the stalk, the larvae chew into the stalk just below it, often causing the tassel to fall over. Sprays during the pre-tassel stage, when both moths and larvae are present, reduce the opportunity for larvae to move into the stalks and ears of the plant. Once the larvae are in the stalks they are protected from sprays. Good spray coverage of the entire plant provides the most effective kill of larvae as they move from one part of the plant to another. Rotating the type of insecticide used also improves control. Materials registered for controlling European corn borer include Bacillus thuringiensis products (XenTari®, Dipel DF®), Avaunt®, Coragen®, Warrior®, Lannate®, Baythroid®, Asana®, Radiant®, Delta Gold®, Mustang®, Sevin XLR® and Larvin®. We found corn borer feeding injury in pre-tassel fields in Sabattus, Farmington, Livermore Falls, New Gloucester and Nobleboro this week; but only the field in Nobleboro exceeded the injury threshold. Once corn reaches the silk stage, sprays may be based on the number of corn borer moths caught in pheromone traps rather than feeding injury. European corn borer moths will lay eggs on flag leaves of silking corn, and the larvae can move into the ears without leaving visible feeding injury that would be noticed when scouting. If more than five moths are caught during a week in a field with silking corn, a spray is recommended. Varieties of corn genetically modified to produce the Bt toxin (e.g. Bt corn, Attribute® varieties), should not need to be sprayed to control European corn borer.

Corn earworm:  Pheromone traps are now set up around the state to monitor the arrival of corn earworm. Corn earworm generally appears in Maine in early July, but the actual date varies greatly. The arrival of this pest is only a concern for fields with corn in the silk stage. Fields not yet in silk do not need to be protected from corn earworm. When corn earworm moths start being caught at a site, all silking corn in the fields should be protected with a spray. These moths lay eggs on the fresh silks and the larvae move directly into the ears of corn. When corn earworm moths cannot find silking corn to deposit their eggs on, they may lay eggs on the leaves of younger corn. The larvae will feed on the foliage and tassels, similar to armyworm, until the ears become available. When larvae are found feeding on younger corn, the damage is accounted for, along with any borer or armyworm damage, to determine if a spray is warranted.

Corn Earworm Moth

Corn Earworm Moth, photo by David Handley

Fall Armyworm Moths

Fall Armyworm Moths (female right, male left), photo by James Dill

Fall armyworm:  This is usually the last serious corn insect pest to arrive in Maine. The moths must fly in from southern over-wintering sites, and tend to lay their eggs on the youngest corn available. When the larvae hatch, they chew large, ragged holes in the leaves, and may bore into developing ears. Larvae may also move into the ears through the silk channel, behaving similarly to corn earworm. Pheromone trap catches will indicate if there is a threat to silking corn. However, corn will usually be on a spray program for corn earworm when fall armyworm is present, and both insects would be controlled.

Harstack Trap

Harstack Trap, photo by David Handley

Do-It-Yourself IPM:  To get the most accurate information about the pest situation on your farm you should monitor the fields yourself on a regular basis. Pheromone traps and lures are available that can give you an accurate, early warning of the arrival of all of the major insect pests. Traps and lures can be purchased from pest management supply companies such as Gempler’s (1.800.382.8473) or Great Lakes IPM (517.268.5693).

To learn more about IPM scouting techniques, insect identification and control thresholds, order the fact sheet Managing Insect Pests of Sweet Corn available from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. Color pictures are provided to help with insect identification, and a chart with spray thresholds is supplied to post near your sprayer for easy reference. You can download a copy from the UMaine IPM website or call the Pest Management Office at 1.800.287.0279.

IPM Web Pages:
http://extension.umaine.edu/ipm/
http://www.pestwatch.psu.edu/sweet_corn.htm
http://www.umass.edu/umext/ipm/

Sincerely,

David T. Handley
Vegetable & Small Fruit Specialist

Highmoor Farm                       Pest Management Office
P.O. Box 179                             491 College Avenue
Monmouth, ME  04259         Orono, ME  04473
207.933.2100                           1.800.287.0279

Where brand names or company names are used it is for the reader’s information.  No endorsement is implied nor is any discrimination intended against other products with similar ingredients.  Always consult product labels for rates, application instructions and safety precautions.  Users of these products assume all associated risks.

Published and distributed in furtherance of the Acts of Congress of May 8 and June 30, 1914, by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, the Land Grant University of the State of Maine and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating.  Cooperative Extension and other agencies of the U.S.D.A. provide equal opportunities in programs and employment.

Strawberry IPM Newsletter No. 5 – June 20, 2014

Friday, June 20th, 2014

StrawberriesStrawberry IPM Newsletter No. 5 – June 20, 2014

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HARVEST STARTS IN SOUTHERN MAINE

Spider Mites and Leaf Diseases Active

Situation:  Strawberry picking is underway in southern Maine this week, with many farms opening for pick-your-own customers this weekend. Overall, the crop looks good to very good, in spite of some winter injury and a cool, wet start to the season. It also looks as though we will have good weather for opening weekend customers. The Strawberry IPM Newsletter, will take a couple of weeks off while we enjoy the harvest and will be back with our Renovation Issue in July.

Large Tarnished Plant Bug Nymph

Third Instar Tarnished Plant Bug Nymph, photo by David Handley

Tarnished plant bug nymphs were absent in many fields this week and in low numbers wherever they were found. Only one field exceeded the control threshold of 4 flower clusters infested with nymphs out of 30 sampled. If you still have blossoms remaining in your field, it is important to keep scouting for nymphs into the green fruit stage to prevent injury.

Two-spotted spider mites:  Two fields we scouted this week were over the control threshold of 25% of leaves infested; but most fields had very few, if any, mites present. As drier weather sets in, mite populations will likely begin to increase. Continue scouting for mites during the summer after bed renovation, to prevent a build up that could weaken the plants during flower bud development.

Two-spotted Spider Mites

Two-spotted Spider Mites, photo by David Handley

Strawberry Root Weevil Grub

Strawberry Root Weevil Grub, photo by David Handley

If black vine weevils or strawberry root weevils are a problem in a strawberry field that you would like to carry over, bifenthrin (Brigade®) can be applied to control the beetles when their feeding is noticed (usually until mid- to late-July). Grubs are now beginning to pupate in the soil, and the adult weevils will begin to emerge in a few weeks. Look for notching along the leaf edges and the presence of the black or brown snout beetles during the evening. Applications should be made at night when these insects are active, and the highest allowable rate of the insecticide should be used.

Powdery Mildew

Powdery Mildew, photo by David Handley

Leaf Spot on Strawberry Plant

Leaf Spot, photo by David Handley

Diseases:  Dry weather predicted for the upcoming week should provide some relief from the threat of fruit rots, including gray mold and leather rot. However, foliar diseases, including powdery mildew and leaf spot can continue to flourish under drier conditions if infections have already occurred. If you still have significant bloom remaining in the field, you may still need to apply a fungicide to protect against gray mold, especially if rain is predicted in your area, or you plan to overhead irrigate the planting.

Keep an eye out for anthracnose fruit rot as berries begin to ripen in the field.  Infected fruit show sunken patches of brown or black. Whole fruit may suddenly turn soft or dry up to blackened mummies. This is usually a problem when fields have standing water present and warm temperatures. I haven’t seen anthracnose in the fields I have visited so far, but be aware that this could still become a problem. Effective fungicides include Cabrio® and Abound®.

Spraying Pesticides on Raspberries Using Backpack

Spraying Pesticides on Raspberries, photo by Jill Stanley

Important Reminder for Pesticide Users
Fruit, vegetable or grain growers who use general use (over-the-counter) pesticides and annually sell more than $1,000 of plants or plant products intended for human consumption will be required to have an Agricultural Basic Pesticide Applicator License by April 15, 2015. In the past, only farmers using restricted use pesticides were required to have a pesticide applicators license. The new law extends the licensing requirement to all commercial growers who use pesticides. Training and testing sessions for unlicensed farmers will be held across the state this fall and winter. For more information contact the Pest Management Office at 1.800.287.0279.

Review:  Keeping Strawberries Fresh for Market
If you‘re bringing fruit to market, make sure that it arrives in the best condition possible. Strawberries cool most efficiently if harvested early in the morning before they build up field heat. Place fruit into refrigerated storage quickly and keep it out of direct sunlight. Fruit should be stored at 32°F and 95% relative humidity. Cold air should be moved through the boxes or flats of fruit with a circulating fan and/or exhaust fan to cool most efficiently. Temperatures lower than 32°F may freeze the fruit and ruin its fresh quality. A small, well-insulated building cooled with air conditioners and fans can provide effective temporary storage for strawberries. If you don’t have refrigeration facilities, keep the fruit as cool as possible by harvesting when air temperatures are cool, and keeping it out of direct sunlight. Transport the fruit to market as quickly as possible, and harvest only what you think you can sell in a day.

Strawberry Harvest

Strawberry Harvest, photo by David Handley

Annual Pre-Harvest Checklist for Pick-Your-Own
It’s that time again! As harvest approaches, we like to remind you to take a moment and make sure that your farm is prepared to give your customers an enjoyable experience. Take a look at our checklist and evaluate your customer readiness.

√  Signs to the farm are neat and easy to read.

√  There is easy access to the fields and plenty of parking.

√  Someone is ready to greet customers and offer parking instructions and directions to the field.

√  Access to the field is free of hazards.

√  Transportation is provided for the elderly and disabled.

√  The rules regarding picking are clearly posted.

√  Someone is in the field to show customers where to pick and to answer questions.

√  There are plenty of picking containers available.

√  Clean restroom and hand washing facilities are available.

√  Someone is available to help customers carry fruit out of the field.

√  The checkouts are fast and efficient.

√  Beverages are available.

√  Shade and seats are available for customers wanting to rest.

√  The help are friendly and knowledgeable.

A friendly, clean, and organized atmosphere will leave a lasting impression on your customers, encouraging them to come back and to recommend your farm to their friends.

Websites Worth Visiting
If you are looking for information to help diagnose a problem in your strawberries or need a recommendation for a control strategy, the 2013-2014 New England Small Fruit Management Guide is available online. You should also check out Cornell University’s Berry Diagnostic Tool online.

Sincerely,

David T. Handley
Vegetable & Small Fruit Specialist

Highmoor Farm                       Pest Management
P.O. Box 179                              491 College Avenue
Monmouth, ME  04259         Orono, ME  04473
207.933.2100                           1.800.287.0279

Maine Cooperative Extension, the Land Grant University of the state of Maine and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Cooperating.  Cooperative Extension and other agencies of the U.S.D.A. provide equal opportunities in programs and employment.  A Member of the University of Maine System.

Where brand names or company names are used it is for the reader’s information. No endorsement is implied nor is any discrimination intended against other products with similar ingredients. Always consult product labels for rates, application instructions and safety precautions. Users of these products assume all associated risks.

Drummond Talks to BDN About Blueberry, Bee Research

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

Frank Drummond, an entomology specialist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and a UMaine professor of insect ecology, spoke to the Bangor Daily News about a five-year, $3.5 million research project on the role bees play in blueberry production. Drummond is leading the project that involves biologists, economists, anthropologists and graduate students from UMaine, as well as researchers from other states. Drummond said renting commercial beehives is, on average, the most expensive production cost for Maine’s blueberry growers. The project aims to study the role native bees play in blueberry pollination, the status of native bee populations, and which species of bees are best for adequate pollination. “The whole purpose of this project is to look at what are some of the best pollination strategies that growers might be able to use,” he said. The project also includes outreach to blueberry growers in the form of workshops hosted by Drummond to teach growers about pollination.

Strawberry IPM Newsletter No. 4 – June 13, 2014

Friday, June 13th, 2014

StrawberriesStrawberry IPM Newsletter No. 4 – June 13, 2014

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EARLY FIELDS GETTING READY FOR HARVEST

Tarnished Plant Bugs, Spider Mites and Leaf Diseases Active

Situation:  Strawberry development continues to be slow, as we can’t seem to string together more than a couple of warm days before the cool damp weather creeps back in. Despite the clouds, many fields are starting to get a bit dry; although rain predicted for this weekend may bring those fields some needed moisture. Overall, most fields look very good, with good plant vigor and fairly heavy bloom. Turn out for our twilight meeting at Fairwinds Farm in Bowdoinham was very good, and we thank Pete and Cathy Karonis for their hospitality. Many of the strawberry growers there were hoping to start picking next week and perhaps opening for pick-your-own next weekend. It looks like we’ll have a good crop for July 4th.

Strawberry bud weevil or “clipper” is very active in late flowering varieties and raspberries this week. Most early and mid-season varieties are now beyond the point at which clippers can cause significant damage. Two fields scouted this week were over threshold for clipped buds. Remember that clippers will move onto raspberries to clip flower buds after strawberry bloom.

Clipper Beetle on Strawberry Blossom

Clipper Beetle on Strawberry Blossom, photo by David Handley

First Instar Tarnished Plant Bug Nymph

First Instar Tarnished Plant Bug Nymph, photo by David Handley

Tarnished plant bug nymphs are present in most fields this week, but in most cases were not over the threshold of 4 flower clusters infested with nymphs out of 30 sampled. Most of the nymphs found were still in the very small, bright yellow-green phase. It is important to keep scouting for nymphs through the bloom period and into the green fruit stage because feeding damage can still occur, causing misshapen, seedy berries.

Two-spotted spider mites were present in most fields scouted this week but, with one exception, they were well under the threshold of 25% of leaves infested. Cool, damp weather generally keeps mite populations in check naturally, but they can increase rapidly under hot, dry conditions, so it is important to keep scouting for them.

Cyclamen Mite Damage

Cyclamen Mite Damage, photo by David Handley

Cyclamen mites:  We continue to find fields with cyclamen mite infestations. Usually symptoms are first noticed in beds that are two or three years old.   Infested plants show weak growth and yellow, crinkled leaves. The flower stems are small and short and the petals are deformed and sometimes look pink.  The symptoms can be confused with winter injury, herbicide injury or virus infection. Cyclamen mites reside on undeveloped leaves and flower clusters down within the crown of the strawberry plants, and can be very hard to see, even with magnification. Miticide applications must be applied with lots of water (40-100 gals./acre) to be sure that the material reaches the mites.

Sap beetles sometimes become a problem when fruit starts to ripen. The 1/8-inch long, dark brown beetles chew small holes in ripening fruit, similar to slug injury. They may be seen in the holes they’ve chewed into ripe fruit, but often drop to the ground when disturbed. The best management strategy for sap beetles is good sanitation. Keep the field free of overripe fruit by picking often and thoroughly. Insecticide sprays for this pest can be effective, but should be a last resort during the harvest period. Brigade®, Assail® Dibrom® and PyGanic® are registered for control of sap beetles with pre-harvest intervals ranging from 12 to 24 hours. Read the product label carefully for this and other application instructions and restrictions.

Slug on Strawberry

Slug on Strawberry, photo by James Dill

Slugs may also start feeding on strawberries as they start to ripen. Moist conditions and mulch encourage the presence of slugs. They feed at night, leaving large holes and tunnels in ripening fruit and shiny slime trails on the leaves. Baits such as Deadline® and Sluggo® offer some control of slugs, and should be used prior to fruit ripening. Avoid contacting the developing fruit with the bait. Pay close attention to label instructions and precautions. Slugs overwinter in the egg stage, so baits applied to the fields in mid-September can effectively reduce egg-laying.

Diseases:  Many fields are now past the most susceptible bloom stage for primary infection by Botrytis spores. Fungicides applied during bloom should provide adequate protection against gray mold unless fields get lots of rain post-bloom. If more than one inch of rain has fallen since your last fungicide application, it is likely that the fruit are no longer protected, and another application may be warranted.

Leather rot (Phytopthora cactorum):  Most fields have dried out very well over the past week, reducing the chance of leather rot infections. If you have standing water in your fields during the bloom or early fruit development period, you may want to consider a fungicide application to prevent leather rot. Remember that fungicides applied for gray mold are generally not effective for leather rot. Aliette®, Agri-Phos® or Phostro® are considered most effective.

Powdery mildew:  Warmer, humid weather has increased the symptoms of powdery mildew in fields this week. Many plants are starting to show red streaks on the leaf and flower stems, upward curling leaves, and white, powdery growth on the leaf undersides. Keep an eye out for leaf cupping in your fields and, if you need to apply another fungicide for gray mold, add a material that will also provide control of powdery mildew, such as Pristine®, Topsin-M®, or captan.

Leaf Spot

Leaf Spot, photo by David Handley

Leaf Scorch

Leaf Scorch, photo by David Handley

Leaf spot infections are becoming more common in strawberry fields this week. The spots usually appear on older leaves first, as small purple or red spots with white centers. Leaf scorch has also been noted in a couple of fields. The spots are smaller in the case of scorch, and lack the white centers. Spots may coalesce to turn the leaves purple and brown, leading to the death of the leaf and weakening of the plant. Many strawberry varieties have at least partial resistance to leaf spot and leaf scorch. Fungicides registered for leaf spots include captan, Topsin-M®, Cabrio®, and Pristine®.

Bird Damage on Strawberry

Bird Damage on Strawberry, photo by David Handley

Birds, specifically cedar waxwings, will soon be moving into fields to feed on ripening fruit. Waxwings often destroy many of the early ripening fruit, despite our best efforts to scare them off. Only by keeping a near constant presence in the field and eliminating roosting sites can you keep them at bay. They are often discouraged once people start to occupy the fields much of the day to harvest. Cedar waxwings are songbirds and are protected by law. They should not be killed. However, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service may issue permits for killing birds if they receive a recommendation for such a permit from the Maine Wildlife Services Office (part of the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) in Augusta, along with an application from the grower. There is a $50 fee for the application, and it may take over a month for the permit to be processed. However, the permit is good for one year; so if you have problems this season, you may consider applying for a permit this winter, which would allow you the option to kill birds, if necessary, next season. The Wildlife Damage Office has recommendations for managing birds in crops, and also has some control options available through their office. For more information on permits or bird control contact the office in Augusta at 207.629.5181. The office is located in the Capital West Business Center, 79 Leighton Road in Augusta.

Sincerely,

David T. Handley
Vegetable & Small Fruit Specialist

Highmoor Farm                       Pest Management
P.O. Box 179                             491 College Ave
Monmouth, ME  04259         Orono, ME  04473
207.933.2100                           1.800.287.0279

Maine Cooperative Extension, the Land Grant University of the state of Maine and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Cooperating.  Cooperative Extension and other agencies of the U.S.D.A. provide equal opportunities in programs and employment.  A Member of the University of Maine System.

Where brand names or company names are used it is for the reader’s information. No endorsement is implied nor is any discrimination intended against other products with similar ingredients. Always consult product labels for rates, application instructions and safety precautions. Users of these products assume all associated risks.

Handley Offers Tips on Growing Berries for Press Herald Article

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

David Handley, a University of Maine Cooperative Extension specialist of vegetables and small fruits at UMaine’s Highmoor Farm in Monmouth, was interviewed for a Portland Press Herald article about the best methods for growing native berries. Handley shared tips for successfully growing strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries at home.

Growers Twilight Meeting – June 11, 2014

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

GROWERS TWILIGHT MEETING

Wednesday, June 11, 2014
5:30 p.m.
Fairwinds Farm across from 555 Brown’s Point Road, Bowdoinham, Maine 04008
Tel. 207.522.5064
Cost:  Free
No registration is required.

The University of Maine Cooperative Extension and the Maine Vegetable and Small Fruit Growers Association will hold a twilight meeting at Fairwinds Farm in Bowdoinham on Wednesday, June 11, 2014 at 5:30 p.m.

Hosts Pete and Cathy Karonis grow 10 acres of strawberries and approximately 40 acres of mixed vegetables in fields along the Kennebec River and have a farm stand and greenhouses in Topsham. They will host a tour of their strawberry, raspberry and vegetable plantings, and describe their growing and marketing.

There will be a discussion of the upcoming season for vegetable and berry growers, and pest management strategies for the season ahead with Vegetable and Small Fruit Specialist, David Handley and Vegetable Specialist, Mark Hutton. One pesticide applicator recertification credit will be awarded for attending the meeting.

Fairwinds Farm is located across the road from 555 Brown’s Point Road, Bowdoinham 04008. (Use for GPS reference.) We’ll meet at the strawberry fields. Their phone numbers are 207.522.5064 and 207.522.0246 and their email address is fairwindsfarm08@gmail.com. Signs will be posted. Cost for the meeting is free and no registration is required. For more information, please contact David Handley at 207.933.2100 or david.handley@maine.edu. We hope to see you there!

Directions
From I-295, take Exit 37. Turn east towards Bowdoinham onto Route 125/138 South. Travel 1.4 miles to the stop sign, then turn left onto Route 24 North/River Road. Travel 0.7 mile and turn right onto Brown’s Point Road. Go 2.6 miles (road veers to the right and becomes a dirt road) and the farm is on the left.

Any person with a disability who needs accommodations for this program should contact Pam St. Peter at 207.933.2100 or TDD 1.800.287.8957 to discuss their needs at least 7 days in advance.

Strawberry IPM Newsletter No. 3 – June 6, 2014

Monday, June 9th, 2014

Strawberries

Strawberry IPM Newsletter No. 3 – June 2014

Click on photos to enlarge.

STRAWBERRY GROWTH SLOW BUT STEADY AS HARVEST APPROACHES

Clippers, Tarnished Plant Bugs, and Spider Mites Active

Vegetable and Berry Growers Twilight Meeting
Wednesday, June 11, 2014 at 5:30 p.m.
Fairwinds Farm, Bowdoinham, Maine

Situation: The temperatures have remained fairly cool with more damp, cloudy days and, as a result, strawberry development has been relatively slow but steady as we head towards harvest time. A later start may be a good thing for pick-your-own fields, as it will better coincide with the end of the school year; but a few days of warm weather would really speed development. Most early varieties are now in the small green fruit stage, while later varieties are still in bloom. Early fields that started under row covers may be picking a few fruit next week.

Twilight Meeting
The University of Maine Cooperative Extension and the Maine Vegetable and Small Fruit Growers Association will hold a twilight meeting at Fairwinds Farm in Bowdoinham on Wednesday, June 11 at 5:30 p.m. Pete and Cathy Karonis grow 10 acres of strawberries and approximately 40 acres of mixed vegetables in fields along the Kennebec River and have a farmstand and greenhouses in Topsham. They will host a tour of their strawberry, raspberry and vegetable plantings, and describe their growing and marketing practices. In addition, we’ll discuss the upcoming season and pest management issues facing vegetable and berry growers this year. One pesticide applicator recertification will be awarded for the meeting. Hold the date! We’ll meet at the strawberry fields in Bowdoinham.

From I-295, take Exit 37. Turn east towards Bowdoinham onto Route 125/138 South. Travel 1.4 miles to the stop sign, then turn left onto Route 24 North/River Road. Travel 0.7 mile and turn right onto Brown’s Point Rd. Go 2.6 miles (road veers to the right and becomes a dirt road) and the farm is on the left, across from 555 Brown’s Point Road. (Use this address for GPS reference. Signs will be posted.) Their contact information is: tel. 207.522.5064 or 207.522.0246, email fairwindsfarm08@gmail.com.

Strawberry bud weevil or “clipper” is still working in fields of late varieties that still have lots of unopened flower buds. Fields that have reached full bloom or beyond no longer need to be scouted for clipper. Damage in most fields remains fairly light, as early varieties went into bloom before clipper became very active. Three of the fields scouted this week were just over threshold for clipped buds, and clippers have been observed in other fields where the damage had not yet reached threshold.

Reminder to raspberry growers: Strawberry clipper will move onto raspberry buds after strawberry bloom. Check raspberry flower clusters for clipped buds and live clippers. Insecticide sprays to control raspberry fruit worm adults (which are also active at this time) should provide some control of clipper as well. Products registered for clipper on raspberries include Brigade®, Sevin XLR Plus® and Aza-Direct®.

Clipper Damage on Strawberry Plant

Clipped Flower Buds from Strawberry Clipper, photo by David Handley

Large Tarnished Plant Bug Nymph

Third Instar Tarnished Plant Bug Nymph, photo by David Handley

Tarnished plant bug nymphs were over threshold in two fields scouted this week, but most fields still showed very little tarnished plant bug activity. However, it is important to keep scouting for nymphs throughout the bloom period because they can appear very quickly under warmer, drier conditions. Insecticide options for tarnished plant bug include malathion, Assail®, Brigade®, Bifenture®, Danitol®, and PyGanic®.

Strawberry Rootworm Beetle

Strawberry Rootworm Beetle, photo by David Handley

Strawberry rootworm (not root weevil) adults and feeding injury were reported on strawberry plants last week The adult stage of this insect is a small (1/8”) dark brown beetle. The beetles feed on strawberry leaves during the spring and late summer, causing numerous small holes in the leaves. The adults in fields now will soon lay eggs. The larvae are small grubs that feed on the roots of strawberry plants, causing them to be stunted and weak.  If these beetles and/or feeding injury is prevalent in a field, a treatment is recommended. Sevin 50WP® is registered for control of this pest, and sprays targeted at other insect pests at this time may also control rootworm. Strawberry rootworm should not be confused with root weevil, a larger insect that causes much more serious damage when present in a field.

Two-spotted spider mites were over the threshold (25% of leaves infested) in two locations this week, and smaller populations (under threshold) have been found in most fields. Mites can proliferate rapidly under hot, dry conditions, so it is important to scout for them often. Chemical control options for two-spotted spider mites include Acramite®, Savey®, Zeal®, Vendex®, Oberon®, Brigade®, Danitol®, Thionex® and JMS Stylet oil® (oils will cause plant injury if used in combination with captan or within 14 days of an application of sulfur).

Cyclamen mites:  Two more fields we’ve scouted have shown symptoms of cyclamen mite injury this week. Infested plants show weak growth and yellow, crinkled leaves. The flower stems are small and short and the petals are deformed and sometimes look pink.  Cyclamen mites are very hard to see, even with magnification. Portal®, Kelthane® or Thionex® can be effective, but must be applied in lots of water to be sure that the material is carried down into the crowns where these mites reside.

Spittlebug

Spittlebug, photo by David Handley

Spittlebugs: The frothy spittle masses on the leaf and flower stems from spittlebugs usually show up around bloom. Spittlebugs don’t pose a significant threat to the plants, but the spittle masses are a nuisance for pickers. Spittlebugs overwinter as eggs and the nymphs emerge in late May. Scouting for spittlebugs should start when the plants are at 10% bloom. Randomly inspect five, one square foot areas per field every week. Spread the leaves and inspect the crowns, leaf bases, leaf stems, and flower stems looking for the frothy spittle masses. Small, yellow-orange nymphs will be under the spittle. If the average number of spittle masses is more than two per foot, a treatment may be warranted. Spittlebugs tend to be a greater problem in weedy fields. Pesticides currently registered for spittlebug control include Provado®, Thionex®, Danitol® and Brigade®.

Diseases: The conditions have been wet enough in most fields to encourage Botrytis infections, which will lead to gray mold once the fruit start to ripen. Two to three sprays of fungicide during bloom are usually required to provide good protection against this disease.

Leather rot (Phytopthora cactorum) is still a concern for fields which have had long periods of standing water during this wet spring, especially if the fields were not mulched last fall. Fungicides applied for gray mold are generally not effective for leather rot. Foliar sprays of Aliette®, Agri-Phos® or Phostrol® applied during bloom or fruit development can help prevent leather rot.

Anthracnose fruit rot is a potential problem when fruit ripens in fields that are wet from irrigation or rain. This fungus disease is favored by warm, humid conditions and can spread rapidly during rains or when fields are irrigated with overhead sprinklers. In cool seasons, it may appear close to harvest or may not show up at all. Anthracnose fruit rot is identified by black sunken lesions with wet, orange (and sometimes gray) spore masses in them. The fungus can survive and multiply on leaves without visible symptoms, appearing suddenly as a fruit rot when the conditions are right. Fungicides such as Cabrio® and Abound® can provide good control of anthracnose.

Powdery Mildew

Powdery Mildew, photo by David Handley

Powdery mildew symptoms of this fungus disease have just started showing up in fields this week. As the weather warms up expect it to become more prevalent. Mildew may first appear as purple or red streaks on the leaf and flower stems. Later, upward curling leaves and white, powdery growth on the undersides becomes evident. Keep an eye out for leaf cupping in your fields as the days start to get warmer.  Pristine®, Cabrio®, Topsin-M®, captan, Procure®, Torino® and JMS Stylet oil® are registered to control powdery mildew.

Sincerely,

David T. Handley
Vegetable & Small Fruit Specialist

Highmoor Farm                       Pest Management
P.O. Box 179                              491 College Avenue
Monmouth, ME  04259         Orono, ME  04473
207.933.2100                           1.800.287.0279

Maine Cooperative Extension, the Land Grant University of the state of Maine and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Cooperating.  Cooperative Extension and other agencies of the U.S.D.A. provide equal opportunities in programs and employment.  A Member of the University of Maine System.

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What’s That Weed? UMaine Extension Knows

Friday, May 30th, 2014

University of Maine Cooperative Extension is offering a free weed identification walk at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 12, at Stutzman’s Farm, 891 Douty Hill Road, Sangerville.

Common weeds that invade vegetable, fruit and other cultivated crops will be the focus of the walk led by Extension Educator Donna Coffin. She’ll have references available for those who want to learn how to identify and manage weeds. Participants are encouraged to bring a digital photo of problematic weeds in their farms and gardens. Two hours of pesticide recertification credit are available for private pesticide applicators.

For more information, or to request a disability accommodation, contact Coffin at 207.564.3301, 800.287.1491 (in Maine) or donna.coffin@maine.edu

Handley, Rebar Quoted in BDN Article on Crop Insurance

Friday, May 30th, 2014

David Handley, a vegetable and small fruit specialist at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension at Highmoor Farm in Monmouth, and John Rebar, executive director of UMaine Extension, spoke to the Bangor Daily News for an article about the U.S. Department of Agriculture offering new crop insurance options to cover fruits and vegetables. According to the article, the program will extend coverage to smaller farms as opposed to only benefiting growers of commodity crops, such as corn and soybeans. Previous insurance programs gave little incentive for farmers to diversify their crops, the article states. Handley said in previous Farm Bills, crop insurance appeared to cover the same crops that crop subsidies covered, and the new options appear to be an effort by the USDA to try to fix some of the current issues that haven’t been popular with farmers. “We are seeing a real resurgence in growth of diversified farms,” Rebar said. “They need some risk protection.”

Moran Talks to WLBZ About Maine Farmers Experimenting with New Crops

Friday, May 30th, 2014

Renae Moran, a tree fruit specialist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, spoke with WLBZ (Channel 2) for a report about Maine farmers experimenting with new crops for the region as weather patterns change. Moran said stone fruits, such as peaches, may one day end up playing a bigger role in Maine’s farming economy. She advises Maine farmers to weigh their tolerance for risk before investing in risky crops. “When you’re planting peaches, you have to be willing to lose every tree. If you can’t handle that, stick with something tried and true like apples,” she said.