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Orange rust stunting black raspberry plant. Note the “spindly” elongated shoots. Photo credit: Mike Ellis
July 1, 2016

We all get a little rusty as we get older, but one thing that we don’t want to see getting rusty is our brambles. There are several rust diseases that affect brambles. I’m just going to focus on orange rust, which is the most important rust disease in the northeast. We are definitely seeing a bit of orange rust this year, with the cool wet springs. You’ll see this disease on blackberries, black raspberries and purple raspberries. Orange rust does not affect red raspberries.

MyIPM-NED app: disease management for apples, pears, cherries, and cranberries at your fingertips.
June 3, 2016

A new smartphone application, called MyIPM-NED, was developed to promote integrated disease management for apples, pears, cherries, and cranberries and is available for free for Android and iOS devices. These apps are also able to be used on tablets, as well.

Botrytis cinerea sporulation on a ripe strawberry.  Scott Bauer, USDA Agricultural Research Service,
April 29, 2016

Strawberries are blooming, the rain is falling and it’s warming into the 60’s and 70’s—and as a plant pathologist, all I see is Botrytis spores dancing about the farm. We have already started to see Botrytis popping up on stem tissue and flower petals. Scouting for the pathogen in your fields will help inform you whether you need to spray.

April 7, 2016

Agriculture Handbook 66 (AH-66) represents a complete revision and major expansion of the 1986 edition. It has been reorganized and now includes 17 Chapters and 138 Commodity Summaries written by nearly a hundred experts in 792 pages.

Aprovia is a new fungicide to help in the apple scab fight. (Photo: K. Peter)
April 1, 2016

Aprovia is a new fungicide (SDHI, FRAC group 7) available for pome fruit disease management. Due to crop safety concerns, BASF will be cancelling the pome fruit registration for Vivando.

March 9, 2016: No green tip yet on Gala…but it will be soon! Photo: K. Peter
March 10, 2016

The first scab spores of the season have been detected; however, there is no scab infection risk until green tissue is present and there is an infection period. Since trees are pushing due to the warm weather the last several days, now is a good time to apply dormant copper sprays to manage diseases.

February 22, 2016

In a recent article I described some important aspects of designing field experiments to avoid biasing the data. The take home lesson was that treatments should be replicated and randomized. In this article I will describe methods to summarize and interpret the data resulting from field experiments with a single qualitative treatment variable.

Riesling vines that show severe dieback due to winter kill. Photo: Bryan Hed
January 21, 2016

The past two winters have ramped up concerns about crown gall in Pennsylvania and other parts of the Northeast. Wine grape growers are discovering, many for the first time, the horrors of this disease and the extent of the damage it can cause in their vineyards. While there is reason for great concern, I would like to start out by saying that research efforts are generating extensive information on management of this disease, and there are new solutions from research in the pipeline.

Example of a randomized complete block design layout for comparing treatments in a peach block. Treatments were applied to multiple-tree units in each of 4 rows in the block.
January 14, 2016

Research performed by universities is relatively expensive because we have to pay for the considerable infrastructure associated with research, including the salaries of trained researchers and technicians. Recently some growers have expressed a desire to perform their own research to save money.

'Prime-Jan' blackberry Photo: Kathleen Demchak
September 24, 2015

Spotted wing drosophila is present just about anywhere we look these days—even in berry fields where fruit is no longer present.

Codling moth injured fruit. Photo: Greg Krawczyk
September 4, 2015

In the last few days we have observed numerous older nymphs and adults of brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) moving into orchards from adjacent woods and agronomic crops. Similarly as during the 2014 season, we are detecting brown marmorated stink bugs mostly on the edges of orchards bordering with woods but a much lower BMSB numbers on crops such as soybean or corn.

Single bay tunnels at Penn State's Horticulture Research Farm.
August 28, 2015

Soil in high tunnels isn’t exposed to the elements like soil in the field is, and if the plastic is kept on the tunnels for multiple winters, little leaching takes place. Thus, nutrients and salts can accumulate. How much difference does taking the covers off for one winter make?

August 26, 2015

Researchers at Penn State are investigating how solitary and wild bees are increasingly important in the pollination of crops.

Be sure to protect your fruit from rots: bitter rot on Red Delicious. (Photo credit: K. Peter)
August 24, 2015

The biggest disease concern this time of year is keeping fruit free of rots as they are nearing the home stretch of the season. The recent bouts of rain and prolonged warm weather are ideal conditions for fruit rot issues.

Rescue BMSB trap
August 21, 2015

Although this year the pressure from brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) appears to be somehow lower than in previous years, all stages of BMSB are being observed in and outside of orchards.

Oriental fruit moth larva(e) (Grapholita molesta) on peach. Photo: Clemson University, USDA Cooperative Extension Slide Series,
July 31, 2015

The 2015 season appears to be one of the unique years when the degree-days accumulation are quite close to the average heat accumulation over the last ten years.

Bacterial spot on peach fruit. Photo by S. Bardsley.
July 30, 2015

There has been much confusion this season being able to tell the difference between bacterial spot disease and copper injury. This article will describe symptoms in detail, as well as offer guidance to avoid the pitfalls of using copper for disease control.

Oriental fruit moth (adult) Photo: Greg Krawczyk
July 27, 2015

The third generation of Oriental fruit moth and the second generation of codling moth are active in most orchards in south-central PA. We are observing increased numbers of captured adult moths in sex pheromone traps located at various sites.

Wooly apple aphid colony on apple branch (Photo G. Krawczyk)
July 17, 2015

During this past week we observed first brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) adults maturing from eggs deposited earlier this season by BMSB adults from the overwintering generation. With the arrival of this generation, we expect an intensified movement of BMSB into orchards and more frequent occurrence of fruit injuries caused by this pest.

SWD oviposition damage on blackberry fruit. Photo: Kathleen Demchak, Penn State Extension
July 13, 2015

The fact that spotted wing drosophila is being found in Maryland means that SWD is also likely to be present in warmer areas of Pennsylvania, and in the remainder of Pennsylvania shortly.

Anthracnose is diagnosed by the sunken black lesions on the fruit, with little black dots
July 12, 2015

Anthracnose (also called ripe rot) in blueberry, has been quite severe this year, especially in highly susceptible varieties such as Bluecrop, Bluetta, and Blueray.

June 26, 2015

Thanks to one of our growers we have been advised of a formula error in our spreadsheet.

The Penn State Tree Fruit Pathology Lab is seeking fire blight samples from Pennsylvania. (Photo: K. Peter).
June 26, 2015

The Tree Fruit Pathology Lab at FREC is seeking fire blight samples from around the state of Pennsylvania found in commercial orchards and home landscapes for evaluation for antibiotic-resistant strains of the bacteria and other projects.

Yellow poplar weevil is not known to cause any injuries to fruit or fruit trees. Photo provided by B. Boyer
June 26, 2015

The beginning of July usually marks a switch in our approach to control common insect pests in orchards.

June 12, 2015

The rainfall events experienced this season have prompted questions about the relative “rainfastness” of the insecticides used in fruit production. Precipitation can impact the performance of insecticides, but some compounds resist wash-off.

May 29, 2015

Based on weather station data, we had only low risk fruit rot events in both Pennsylvania and Maryland up until mid-May, when several warm rains soaked the region, leading to two to three dispersal events. There are likely more to come, which means that throughout the region, there is an increased risk leading up to harvest of strawberries, and bloom time for many fruit crops. Protection of these highly susceptible flowers and fruits is critical.

May 29, 2015

When growers send in strawberry leaves for a nutrient analysis, should the petioles remain attached or be removed?

Dr. Cassandra Swett, Grape and Small Fruit Pathologist
April 23, 2015

Dr. Cassandra Swett started at University of Maryland, College Park as the new grape and small fruit pathologist in May 2014, with a split research and extension appointment. Her primary functions are to develop basic and applied information that improves management of grape and small fruit diseases, provide a resource to extension specialists and educators, and communicate information on disease management to producers.

April 23, 2015

Real time disease updates are now available for berry growers. "Follow" on line or via your smart phone!

Left: gray mold; right: anthracnose fruit rot.
April 23, 2015

The strawberry bloom has begun and it’s time for fruit rot protection. Our two main targets for bloom time protection of strawberries are gray mold/ Botrytis fruit rot (Botrytis cinerea), and, if you are growing susceptible varieties like Chandler, anthracnose fruit rot (Colletotrichum acutatum).

Uninjured strawberry crown.
March 6, 2015

The question that seems to be on every berry grower’s mind is how much winter injury occurred this winter. This, of course, depends on the crop.

Penn State's sprayer calibration unit.
February 16, 2015

Proper calibration is a must to make sure pesticide applications get to the target at the proper rate. The Penn State Pesticide Education Program uses calibration units that enable us to collect the output from each nozzle.

January 16, 2015

Hannah Burrack in the Department of Entomology at NC State has put together a survey to quantify spotted wing drosophila's impact on berry growers in the Eastern U.S. While Hannah coordinates the survey, she shares the information with others. In fact, you can see the last 2 years’ results when you visit the site with the survey hyperlink below.

January 16, 2015

Q. I've read in one or two places that strawberries continue to ripen after harvest, but most other articles I've read say they don't. Do they continue to ripen after harvest or not?

January 16, 2015

The berry crops world lost a wonderful person in December 2014. Mary Catherine (Cathy) Heidenreich - May 30, 1958 – December 16, 2014.

Photo by R. Sellmer
December 8, 2014

We have been evaluating 'Niwot' primocane-fruiting black raspberry in tunnels since 2013, and preliminary findings have been promising.

December 8, 2014

Normally, we've been updating the Mid-Atlantic Berry Guide every 2 to 3 years, and this time around, it's going to be 3 years between updates.

October 31, 2014

The key to preventing seeds from rubbing off strawberries is to control powdery mildew before plants become heavily infected.

October 27, 2014

The changing of the color of the leaves and the advent of falling temperatures at night along with pumpkin, broccoli, potato and apple harvest signals to me that cooler weather is just around the corner. Having worked many years with irrigation systems and drip irrigation systems in particular, I thought that this would be an appropriate time to share with you some tips on winterizing irrigation systems so that your system will be ready for next spring.

Comparison of trap catches in Pennsylvania and Maryland. Graphs by Kathy Wholaver.
August 13, 2014

Spotted wing drosophila can attack ripening fruit, but like all other fruit flies, breed in decaying fruit. Trap catches are increasing in blackberry and late season raspberries and sprays should be maintained in blackberries until harvest is complete. Sprays on late season raspberries should start now if there is any color showing on the berries.

Damage to blueberry plants associated with below zero temperatures fluctuating with warmer conditions last winter. Photo by T. Butzler.
July 31, 2014

A number of calls have come in this year regarding blueberry plants with few leaves – though some canes often appeared nearly normal – and berries on the same plant that ranged in size from normal to very tiny.

Top photo: Common fruit flies (50X); Lower photo: Spotted wing drosophila (60X). Photos by D. Biddinger.
July 25, 2014

While in most orchards the brown marmorated stink bug numbers are still very low, at some locations we spotted the first fruit injuries caused by this pest. Populations of spotted wing drosophila might be higher than in the past this season due to tart cherry blocks that were not harvested because of a light crop and their potential as reservoirs for SWD populations to build.

Photo by A. Surcica.
July 11, 2014

Growers of raspberries (both red and black), blackberries, and blueberries in particular should be monitoring for spotted wing drosophila (check traps daily if possible), and should be prepared with effective materials for control.

June 18, 2014

Cheetah™, which is the new name for a formulation of glufosinate, is now labeled for the full spectrum of tree fruit that we grow in the mid-Atlantic region. Our current warm, wet, sunny weather that favors good weed growth provides ideal conditions for application.

June 3, 2014

Botrytis or gray mold is a major disease for strawberry growers, and there is some new information on fungicide resistance that growers should have.

Photo by M. Seetin.
April 30, 2014

Recently, there has been a lot of press related to pollinator health, and some troubling information indicates that certain fungicides, when used during bloom, can negatively affect the health of honey bees. This is a complicated problem with the solutions relying on understanding the detailed relationships among chemicals, pollinators and pest management needs. It is not prudent to treat this topic with a broad brush with statements such as "All neonicotinoid insecticides are bad for all pollinator species," or "No fungicides should be sprayed during bloom." Research is on-going, and we do not know all of the details yet.

Clockwise, from upper left, common chickweed, Canada thistle, shepherd's purse, henbit.  Source:
April 25, 2014

Weeds can surprise you with the amount of competition they create in the springtime, especially when they've been protected under snow or plastic and row covers. Here we'll discuss control of some of our common winter annual weed problems, and also two perennials.

photo courtesy of
March 28, 2014

Upon occasion, commercial growers try to find information on growing an alternative crop and find that there just isn't much information available. One crop that has received a lot of good press lately has been Goji berry. We have very little experience with this crop here, so were fortunate enough to get some information from others who have.

Magnesium deficiency symptoms on blueberry
March 28, 2014

Our berry good question this month brought to mind a number of other questions about fertilization that we are frequently asked. So more questions and answers follow this first question from Sarah Blevins, S.J. Blevins Berries, etc. Thanks for asking, Sarah!

Above center: A male spotted wing drosophila (SWD) on blueberry; another likely SWD is in the background.
January 24, 2014

One option for avoiding injury from spotted wing drosophila is to plant earlier-maturing varieties. This article discusses some cultivars that might fit the bill.

Strawberry plant with mild winter injury.
January 7, 2014

Strawberry is an herbaceous perennial plant and it is fairly susceptible to low winter temperatures. An understanding of the cold acclimation process is important to delay mulch application until the plants have acclimated but before plants are exposed to injurious temperatures.

January 7, 2014

The "Berry Good Question" column is being re-launched as a joint Cornell/Penn State effort.

January 7, 2014

Q: Each year I question whether I'm putting straw mulch on my strawberries too early. Some years, I've waited too long (usually due to hunting season) - then we get snow and I can't get it on at all, so I'd like to mulch as early as I can. I've seen an assortment of recommendations – what should I go by? Thanks.

Photo by D. Biddinger.
August 23, 2013

Spotted wing drosophila (SWD) is present in most small fruit plantings now in varying numbers. The crop that seems to be most severely affected at the moment is blackberries, although there are reports of SWD in nearly every berry crop that is currently fruiting.

July 26, 2013

Spotted wing drosophila numbers are continuing to rise, and SWD is now being found in most berry plantings in the central and southeastern parts of the state.

Symptoms typical of severe anthracnose infection on blackberry.
July 26, 2013

Some small fruit growers, mainly in the southeastern part of the state, have noticed fruit quality problems on their blackberries. This article discusses some common blackberry fruit issues, including whitening of drupelets, drupelet reddening, insect feeding injury, canker diseases and spotted wing drosophila.

Spotted Wing Drosophila on raspberry receptacle.  Photo by D. Biddinger.
July 15, 2013

Spotted wing drosophila (SWD) is now being found more frequently in traps across the state, though numbers are still very low (0-3 per trap per week).

June 5, 2013

Update on the strawberry virus situation in Pennsylvania. Last month, I had written an article regarding two strawberry viruses (strawberry mottle virus, and strawberry mild yellow edge virus) that could be present in strawberry plug plants grown by mid-Atlantic nurseries (and others in the East) that had obtained runner tips from a Canadian supplier. The concerns were that the viruses could spread to otherwise healthy plants if aphids (the vectors of these particular viruses) were present; that the presence of the viruses would affect growers' plans to carry over plantings; and that if both viruses were present in the same plants, vigor and yields would be affected. At the time the article was written, we weren't sure how widespread the problem was in Pennsylvania.

June 5, 2013

Update on the current status of spotted wing drosophila, a species of fruit fly, that is problematic because the tiny larvae of this pest can be present in the fruit when it is harvested.

Symptoms associated with two new strawberry viruses found in Pennsylvania.
April 24, 2013

Two strawberry viruses, in combination, are causing problems for Eastern strawberry growers. The viruses (strawberry mottle virus, abbreviated SMoV; and strawberry mild yellow edge virus, abbreviated SMYEV) have now been discovered in Pennsylvania, and growers are advised to check plants propagated from runner tips obtained from Nova Scotia.

Angular leaf spot close up. (Photo by  K. Demchak)
May 9, 2011

Angular leaf spot, caused by the bacterium Xanthomonas fragariae, is most prevalent in cold, wet conditions. The bacteria spreads within a planting by the splashing of water droplets. The need for overhead irrigation for frost protection can make the problem worse.