The 2018 Berry Season in Review

The 2018 summer weather was certainly memorable. Most of the state was extremely wet for the growing season, and this was reflected in some of the problems we were seeing.
The 2018 Berry Season in Review - News

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Cyclamen mite leaf symptoms. Photo: Kathy Demchak, Penn State

Strawberries

The June strawberry harvest was extremely short for growers in much of the state thanks to rains moving in, which also kept a lot of pick-your-own customers at home. Disease issues related to the rain were high incidences of botrytis fruit rot, anthracnose fruit rot, common leaf spot, verticillium wilt, and black root rot. There were also some cases of botrytis crown rot. Unfortunately, the rain also made it difficult to keep up with fungicide sprays. Finding a window for planting plug plants in late summer was a challenge, though there were sufficient gaps in rainy spells to allow planting to take place. There were a number of cases of damage from cyclamen mites, even on new plantings, and also some difficulties with two-spotted spider mites and thrips.

Raspberries and Blackberries

For some reason, our numbers of spotted wing drosophila in traps were lower this year than in other years. Maybe some of them drowned. Cane blight and spur blight were common in a number of plantings.

Blueberries

The berry crop was good overall, with a nice crop load, though ripening was a bit slow and berry flavor was not as intense as usual. However, berries sized nicely. Various cane blights were common in this crop as well.

General Observations

On a positive note, growers with high tunnels were happy they had them. In the field, weed control was an issue because the rain caused weeds to germinate and grow, cultivation was difficult to accomplish and herbicide pre-emergent activity was decreased or nearly nonexistent. There were also a few instances of unexpected phytotoxicity from both pre-emergent and post-emergent herbicides. Pre-emergent herbicides got washed more deeply into the soil than usual, and since leaves didn’t develop as thick of a cuticle as normal, they may have been especially susceptible to post-emergent herbicide drift.

Things to keep in mind for next year

Given all this, when strawberry growth begins in the spring, growers should keep an eye out for the distorted growth that is a sign of cyclamen mites, scout for two-spotted spider mites on leaf undersides, and watch for stippling, a sign of two-spotted spider mite presence as the season progresses. When pruning this winter and spring, growers will want to keep an especially sharp eye out for cane diseases and remove canes with cankers or other signs of disease, utilize fungicides in the spring to protect new growth, and be prepared with preemergent herbicides to keep weeds at bay.