Feb. 11: Blueberry workshop examines organic alternatives

By Cathy McKenzie, WSU Mount Vernon

blueberries-80MOUNT VERNON, Wash. – Alternatives to pesticide use will be discussed by Washington State University researchers at a blueberry growers workshop 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 11, at the WSU research center, 16650 State Route 536, Mount Vernon.

The $25 registration fee includes lunch and seven presentations focused on organically managing blueberry crops. Find registration and other information at http://www.pesticide.org. The workshop is sponsored by the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides (NCAP). Learn more by contacting NCAP operations manager Sarah Finney, 541-344-5044 ext. 19 or agworkshops@pesticide.org.

Other topics will include whole-farm revenue insurance; organic farm sanitation, monitoring and management; and weed management and mulching. Other presenters include Oregon State University researchers and an organic grower from Cascadian Farms.

The WSU scientists will discuss organic management of two prominent blueberry pests: mummy berry disease and the spotted wing drosophila (Drosophila suzukii) fruit fly.

Methods to control mummy berry

Entomologist Bev Gerdeman, left, and berry pathology researcher Dalphy Harteveld will give presentations about organic methods for dealing with blueberry diseases and insect pests at the Feb. 11 workshop. (Photo by Kim Binczewski, WSU Mount Vernon)

“Mummy berry is a major disease of blueberries, with limited options for the organic grower,” said WSU Mount Vernon postdoctoral research associate Dalphy Harteveld, who specializes in berry pathology. “This workshop presents detailed studies on factors involved in the disease cycle of mummy berry, cultural control methods and the efficacy of commercial products for the organic grower.

“Besides mummy berry, there will be a session presenting other main and emerging blueberry diseases to watch out for and the options for organic control,” she said.

Mummy berry is the result of an overwintering fungus (Monilinia vaccinii-corymbosum) that infects plants and transforms berries into shriveled “mummies” that fall to the ground and spread the fungus to developing buds in the spring.

Reliable ways to fight fruit fly

WSU assistant research professor Bev Gerdeman, an entomologist, will discuss organic management of spotted wing drosophila in blueberry. The female fruit fly lays eggs in ripening berries, which hastens decay as developing larva feed inside the fruit.

“Spotted wing drosophila continues to be a challenge for organic growers,” said Gerdeman. “We are working on ways to maximize efficacy of our organic tools while blending novel cultural management techniques to create a reliable program for our organic growers.”


Dalphy Harteveld, WSU Mount Vernon, 360-848-6157, doc.harteveld@wsu.edu
Bev Gerdeman, WSU Mount Vernon, 360-848-6145, bgerdeman@wsu.edu