Fruit Bud Stages
In Durham and Madbury, McIntosh apple buds were at fruit set on Monday May 23rd. Blueberries were in bloom. Raspberries had many flower buds visible, but unopened.
We usually expect the primary apple scab season to start winding down now, but will not end for a while… probably early June. It is a good time now to do a check for apple scab lesions, and it would be very important to do that again about 10 days after primary season ends. The 10 days allows enough time for the latest lesions to become visible.
Weather Data, Prediction Models
Although the riskiest time for fireblight has ended for some NH orchards, I’ll give links I have been mentioning at twilight meetings and orchard visits. They can help with a number of pest events. One is Glen Koehler’s Orchard Radar. This link takes you to the radar page, and there may be sites relatively close to you that are worth checking out. Groton Massachusetts or Sanford Maine may be relatively close to some NH growers.
A second source of information is NEWA, the Network for Environmental and Weather Applications. We have one NH orchard with a NEWA station, Brookdale in Hollis. You can view the data and predictions for fireblight, (and apple scab, curculio, potato late blight and lots of other pests). Look at the map, and enlarge it to find the icon for Hollis, then clicking on it to get predictions for that site. If you’re far from Hollis, another option (maybe not quite as accurate) is to click on an icon for a nearby airport, on the NEWA map. Eventually we hope to have more NEWA sites in NH. Funding for some of that equipment is anticipated soon. We’re still waiting to hear on a second grant proposal.
Plum Curculio: Most Important Apple Insect Pest?
Plum curculios overwinter as adults, in leaf litter in the woods. They become active about when apple blocks are in bloom. They heavily depend on odor to find apple trees. Once there, attack must wait until the fruit reach 6mm in size. Then the females cut a shallow curved scar into the fruit, and lay an egg under the flap. Fruit that are attacked usually drop to the ground, and in some spots there are enough curculios to attack nearly 100% of the crop. The larva hatches from the egg and tunnels through the fruit. When mature, it drops to the ground and pupates in the soil.
The attack period generally lasts about 3 weeks, but in sites with lots of nearby wild apples, it can extend longer. Basically, we use insecticides to control this insect. The insecticides are harmful to pollinators, plus parasites and predators of leafminers, aphids, caterpillars and mites. If we can minimize spraying, it helps preserve populations of these beneficial organisms and save money.
One way to minimize spraying is to wait to apply the first one until just before the first fruit reach 6mm size. Another option is to time your applications with the aid of a degree day model. My colleagues in New York developed one that some NH growers find useful… and others say it doesn’t work so well for them. It says to keep apples protected through 340 degree days (base 50) after petal fall. [By the way… petal fall in Durham was Friday May 20th. Did you write down your PF date?] We expect that some pesticide residue will continue to control them for a little while past that. This model doesn’t work too well in blocks with a history of heavy, long-lasting pressure. I would not rely on it completely, but it might help you determine when you can stop. In most blocks, three weeks after the first fruit reached 6mm size, there should be no significant immigration of new adults, and spraying can cease.
The insecticides we target for curculio also control the first generation of several other fruit-attacking insects: codling moth, lesser appleworm, and redbanded leafroller. They also control insects that rarely are a problem in commercial blocks, but can be serious in backyard trees: tent caterpillars, gypsy moths, winter moth, green fruitworms. The most effective for curculio: probably (alphabetically listed) Actara, Avaunt, Calypso, Imidan, Leverage and Voliam Express. The last two are combination products. For backyard growers, Sevin is probably the best alternative, in part because it is packaged in appropriate sizes. All-purpose fruit sprays are too drastically diluted to control curculio. For organic growers, Surround is the best choice, but it has to be applied very carefully to work properly. That means you need several thorough but dilute applications. Surround doesn’t kill them. It just interferes with their host recognition (and thus, attack).
European Apple Sawfly
This is now a relatively minor pest, but fruit that are attacked have a long, curved scar that greatly reduces the fruit’s value. EAS adults emerge from the soil during pink stage. The females are very active in the flowers during bloom. That’s when they insert their eggs singly into the tiny fruitlets at the calyx end. In a few orchards, growers have enough trouble with this insect that they apply an insecticide at pink to control it, knowing that the first curculio spray will also help. But in blocks that have varieties with a range of petal fall dates, that curculio spray is slightly late to stop some EAS damage. My data shows that the incidence of EAS injury at harvest in NH (25 year average) has been below 3/10ths of 1 percent… so not very serious.
Blueberries: Mummyberry and Fruitworms
Blueberry growers take note: the fungal stipes of mummyberry fungus should be releasing ascospores now during rainy periods. The spores infect tiny opening blueberry leaves, where the fungus grows and produces conidia. The conidia are splash-spread spores, and they infect the fruit, while it is still green. At first, infected fruit are symptomless, but when ripening time arrives, they turn tan and shrivel up. Some of our varieties that are especially susceptible to the disease are Bluecrop, Blueray, Earliblue, Jersey and Berkeley.
We have two species of fruitworms that attack blueberry. One is called the cherry fruitworm, and the other is cranberry fruitworm. I see a lot of highbush plantings, and in a few of them there is enough fruitworm attack to consider an insecticide treatment. In most, the attack rate is so low, the cost of treatment is probably higher than the value of the damage it would prevent. If you do decide to apply an insecticide, the timing is right after bloom ends. Usually one treatment is enough. It is designed to kill the just-hatched caterpillars.
Clipper in Brambles and Strawberries
Strawberry bud weevil is also known as “clipper”, because it attacks the unopened flower buds of brambles and strawberries, then chews off the buds in which it laid an egg. There is only 1 generation per year, and they overwinter as adults. When flower buds are present but unopened (= NOW), that is when this insect attacks. Attack rate is usually the highest in the edges of the fields, and lower in the interior of the plantings. In strawberries there are thresholds established, and you can read about them in the New England Small Fruit Management Guide. Thresholds have not yet been determined for brambles. Notice in my blackberry photo that all of the brown fruit buds are the ones that have been attacked, and are dangling.
Alan T. Eaton
Integrated Pest Management
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