Click on photos to enlarge.
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.
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.
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.
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®.
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.
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.
David T. Handley
Vegetable & Small Fruit Specialist
Highmoor Farm Pest Management
P.O. Box 179 491 College Avenue
Monmouth, ME 04259 Orono, ME 04473
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.