Special workshop on spotted wing Drosophila and IPM for Hispanic/Latino blueberry growers

This May 12, 2018, workshop will build growers integrated pest management (IPM) knowledge to better control spotted wing Drosophila.

Spotted wing Drosophila in blueberries. Photo: Carlos Garcia-Salazar, MSUE
Spotted wing Drosophila in blueberries. Photo: Carlos Garcia-Salazar, MSUE

As of 2107, the spotted wing Drosophila (SWD) continued to be a major threat for Michigan’s berry industry, and the Michigan Blueberry Advisory Committee (MBBAC) considers the SWD one of its top priorities.

The “zero” tolerance for insects in blueberries makes controlling SWD a challenge. Growers need to spray insecticides numerous times risking exceeding maximum residue limits (MRLs) while making sure no SWD larvae are present in fruit. The SWD also causes revenue losses due to increased pest control expenses, or rejected or downgraded fruit.

In Michigan in 2017, the spotted wing Drosophila caused extensive damage and economic losses, especially among underserved and minority blueberry growers, especially Hispanic/Latinos. A major reason for this was lack of knowledge and risk management skills to deal with risks associated with pests, in this case the SWD.  Growers that before the SWD arrival (2010) were making $0.8-1.00 per pound, last year made only $0.15- 0.35 per pound due to SWD fruit contamination. Given the lack of economic sustainability, some of them quit farming and in 2018 the situation does not look much different.

Successful control of the SWD requires from growers:

  • A deep understanding of Integrated Pest Management’s (IPM) tactics, strategies and tools.
  • Understanding the SWD population dynamics, and ecological and environmental factors driving its biology.
  • In-depth IPM training to learn to retool current IPM programs to incorporate SWD management.

In Michigan, since 2013, advanced SWD IPM training of growers and IPM practitioners is making the difference. After-training evaluations showed that growers with access to Michigan State University Extension IPM trainings were successful in reducing: 1) crop losses due to SWD, 2) fruit downgrading, and 3) reduced SWD control expenses. This advanced IPM training is what we called a systems approach to SWD management.

This training has been offered to growers, including Hispanics, since 2015. Hispanic growers attending this training in 2016 and 2017 were successful in controlling the SWD problem. After applying what they learned, reported benefits included fewer insecticide applications than in previous years. They reported spraying on average 6 times versus 7 or more in 2014. Their pest control expenses averaged $180/acre versus $375 in 2014, and on average 10 percent crop losses due to SWD fruit infestation versus 19 percent in 2014.

Therefore, to maintain this trend in 2018, we will again be offering the training A Systems Approach to Manage the Spotted Wing Drosophila in Berry Crops” for Hispanic/Latino berry growers. The training will take place on Saturday May 12, 2018, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The training location will be Very Blue Farms LLC, 76749 38th Ave, Covert, MI 49043.

Growers attending the training will receive 4 recertification units (RUP) for the renewal of their Pesticide Applicator License.

This educational program is possible thanks to the collaboration and economic support from the Michigan Food and Farming Systems (MIFFS), the Michigan Blueberry Advisory Council (MBBAC), the Michigan State Horticultural Society, and the packing/shipping company Very Blue Farms LLC from Covert, MI.

For the training agenda and online registration information see: https://events.anr.msu.edu/2018SWDforHispanics/

 This training is in Spanish, but limited English translation will be provided upon request to accommodate Hispanics or non-Hispanic growers with language barriers. You may also pre-register by calling:  Jesus Barajas (269) 764-0084 or Filiberto Villa (269) 830-2309.

Did you find this article useful?