The Year from Where for Berry Crops

Posted: August 8, 2011

I don't know what location you're thinking, but I was thinking Florida or Arkansas, or some other point South (maybe). It sure doesn't feel like Pennsylvania. The growing season started out with us having our last frost in central Pennsylvania in March (really!!). That was followed by cool temperatures and constant rain which gave diseases a leg up, and then scorching temperatures and a rain-free month to make sure the insects could multiply at breakneck speed, all while the plants just sat there and accumulated symptoms. Here are a few of the newer problems we're seeing this month:

Brown marmorated stink bug feeding injury, mostly on blackberries in the southeastern part of the state.  You can go chase the adults around the field with your sprayer (hopefully not while screaming), or try to give the nymphs a direct hit since they can't fly.  (See the June 2011 issue of The Vegetable & Small Fruit Gazette for materials labeled on small fruit crops at < >.  On the bright side, if you've already been plastering everything on your farm trying to get them, you may not have the next two problems.

Spotted wing drosophila (SWD).  Enough on that -- just go read the articles on SWD in this issue if you haven't already, and don't look in your berries when you eat them, just in case.  

Thrips injury on blueberries.  Speaking of crawly things, we had thrips crawling around in strawberries and raspberries in various locations earlier this year, which wasn't terribly unusual.  However, a new symptom on blueberries is one that's previously been reported in Florida and North Carolina.  Apparently thrips eggs can be laid in the fruit when it's young. Then the thrips emerge from the fruit and the tissue scars over.  That causes tiny raised, mostly red, bumps of tissue on green to ripe fruit, sometimes clustered near the blossom end, but not always.  It's too late to do anything about that for this year, but there's always next year. 

Drought and heat stress on blueberries.  If parts of leaves turn brown during hot, dry spells, either in spots or around the edges, it may just be heat injury or drought stress.  We're seeing a lot of scorching on blueberry leaves prompting many to think they have a new disease, but chances are that if the symptoms just showed up in the last few weeks, it isn't a disease, but instead is high temperatures or drought stress.

Sunscald on raspberries and blackberries.   If the drupelets are filled out, but are white instead of red or yellow, this is sunscald, which can be caused by high temperatures and/or lots of sun.
This year certainly has presented its share of challenges.  I hope you all are weathering the storm so to speak.

Request for Input to Improve Common Acreage Reporting Process
Jo Lynne Seufer, Risk Management Specialist, USDA/Risk Management Agency,

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Risk Management Agency (RMA) and Farm Service Agency (FSA) published a Federal Register request (July 19th) for input to help USDA improve services and reduce duplication of effort, including collecting information from the public.  The request for information is titled, "Retrospective Review:  Improving Common Acreage Reporting Processes."
The Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services (FFAS) agencies including FSA and RMA have been working on a joint, coordinated initiative to have a common USDA framework for producer's to report information to participate in certain USDA programs.  As part of the continued Acreage/Crop Reporting Streamlining Initiative (ACRSI) implementation effort, USDA expects the ACRSI will expand on the success of the Comprehensive Information Management System (CIMS), which compiles common producer, program and land information collected by FSA, RMA and Approved Crop Insurance Companies (AIP). 
"We are committed to the goals of increasing efficiency and effectiveness in administering USDA programs through the use of technology," said RMA's Spokane Regional Office Director Dave Paul.  "It should also reduce the reporting burden on producers, and cut USDA administrative and operating costs by sharing similar data across participating agencies."
The announcement includes a 60-day comment period (ending September 19, 2011) required by the Paperwork Reduction Act for changes to the information collection. 
Additional information on RMA programs is available at < >.
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