Pests
June 16, 2017, Saint John, NB – A honey bee pest, the small hive beetle, Aethina tumida, has been reported in New Brunswick for the first time.

It has been found in honey bee colonies imported from Ontario in wild blueberry fields at the following locations:
  • Alnwick (near Brantville)
  • Pont-Lafrance in Gloucester County
  • two locations near Saint-Sauveur (Lord and Foy area)
  • Saint-Isidore
All imported colonies and NB colonies in blueberry fields from the areas indicated above are in quarantine until further notice. They are not permitted to be moved within blueberry fields or between blueberry fields.

In order to locate NB bee colonies in these areas, DAAF would like NB blueberry growers with fields in these areas to contact department staff and indicate where the NB colonies are located and who they belong to.
Published in Insects
May 26, 2017, Ontario - The U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is banning imports of fresh cherries from Ontario, following “multiple detections” of the European cherry fruit fly.

The May 23 U.S. Department of Agriculture-APHIS order applies to commercial and non-commercial imports.

Black, mahaleb, sour and sweet cherries are included in the ban. Wild honeysuckle, the fly’s other host plant, also is banned.

Restrictions for Ontario cherries will be in effect until the pest is eradicated from the province, APHIS legislative public affairs specialist Yindra Dixon said.

The pest has not been found in the U.S., but it could establish populations in northern regions of the U.S., Dixon said.

“The climatic tolerance and available hosts of this fruit fly would allow (it) to establish in the United States if introduced from Canada,” Dixon said. “This fruit fly is a serious economic pest of commercial cherries in Europe, where imports of cherries are also restricted.”

On Feb. 4, 2016, USDA identified a fruit fly photographed in Mississauga, Ontario, as likely a European cherry fruit fly. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) began surveys for the pest in Ontario in April 2016. In June 2016, one of the flies was found on honeysuckle in southeastern Ontario. READ MORE
Published in Federal
May 23, 2017, New Brunswick - Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada entomologist Dr. Chandra Moffat is on the lookout for evidence of an agricultural pest that is causing significant damage to crops in the U.S. and parts of Canada.

The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug is an invasive insect that damages various fruit and vegetable crops including apples, tomatoes, beans and many others.

While the insect hasn’t been detected in the province, scientists are expecting its arrival in the next few years.

To get ahead of the game, Dr. Moffat is setting traps in key locations across the province to try to determine if the pest has made its way to N.B.

Originally from Asia, the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug was first detected in the U.S. in 2001.

Since then, the pest has established populations in many U.S. states as well as B.C., Ontario and in 2016 it was discovered in Quebec.

While there are other stink bugs native to this region, the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug has distinct markings that give it away.

These pests have two obvious white bands on otherwise dark antennae, inward-pointing white triangles between dark markings along the edge of the abdomen, and a smooth edge along the pronotum or "shoulders".

They are mottled brown-grey dorsally and a have a pale underside. Legs have faint white bands.

The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug can be found in homes or storage sheds over the winter and start making their way outside in the spring. Moffat is asking New Brunswickers to be our citizen scientists this season and be on the lookout for this pest.

Campers and travellers spending time in the U.S. or central and western Canada this summer are asked to check their luggage and trailers for signs of the pest before returning to N.B.

If you think you’ve found a Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, please contact Dr. Chandra Moffat at ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) to make arrangements for identification.
Published in Research
May 9, 2017, Columbus, OH – When Celeste Welty unzips the white, nylon cage, none of the stink bugs inside move.

“They’re very tranquil,” she says.

Why wouldn’t they be? Inside their cage, they enjoy spa-like conditions with all the sunflower seeds and nuts they can feed on, the warmth of the sunlight coming through the window beside them and a few house plants to make it feel like the outdoors, though they’re in a lab.

Young offspring clutch the walls of a separate cage inside what appears to be a refrigerator but instead is a warming chamber.

Such special treatment for the brown marmorated stink bug, which farmers despise and homeowners often flick out of the way when they discover them indoors during the cold months.

Thriving on a range of fruits and vegetables, the marmorated stink bug has damaged or destroyed enough crops in Ohio and across the United States to get the attention of entomologists nationwide.

Welty, an Ohio State University Extension entomologist, is involved in a 15-state study to determine the best, and ideally natural, way to get rid of the marmorated stink bug. The study is one of several being done on stink bugs through Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

The brown marmorated stink bug is a foreigner to the U.S., and in the absence of natural predators here, its populations are exploding, particularly in the mid-Atlantic region. Arriving in the U.S. from China, the grayish brown bug was first detected in Allentown, Pa., in 2001. Six years later, one was reported in Ohio.

How the first brown marmorated stink bug got to the U.S. is unclear, but often it is carried through boxes or packages, a hitchhiker of sorts, Welty said.

“They like to nestle down into protected, narrow spaces, and that’s often present in packing materials,” she said. “That’s why they’re known to go in cargo and hang out.”

Three years ago, a grower in eastern Ohio ordered a shipment of snow fencing, the perforated plastic fencing that comes in large rolls. When the grower unrolled the fencing sent from Pennsylvania, he found live stink bugs sprinkled throughout.

From Welty’s colony of marmorated stink bugs, she takes the eggs and places them outside the lab on plant leaves. Two days later when she retrieves them, she hopes some have been attacked by the bug’s natural predator, the tiny Trissolcus japonicus wasp. Also a native of China, the wasp was detected in the United States in 2014 and has since been found in eight states but not yet in Ohio. And nowhere in the U.S. is it plentiful – at least not plentiful enough to keep down the marmorated stink bug population.

“The wasp appears to be spreading on its own, but it’s so early on in the introduction of the wasp that we really don’t know,” Welty said.

Welty and entomologists across the U.S. are hoping to happen upon some T. japonicus wasps in their states.

“We’ve known for a number of years now that this one species of wasp would be great to have,” Welty said. “The stink bug is a terrible pest in agricultural crops, and we want to know how to control it with more sustainable methods than just spraying a lot.”

Stink bugs of any species can be tricky to spot outdoors. They hide well – stationing themselves on the underside of leaves and the backside of flowers.
Published in Research
April 27, 2017, Mississauga, Ont — BASF has signed an agreement to acquire ZedX Inc., a company involved in the development of digital agricultural intelligence.

Headquartered in Bellefonte, Penn., ZedX’s expertise lies in the development of agronomic weather, crop, and pest models that rapidly translate data into insights for more efficient agricultural production. With this planned acquisition, BASF strengthens its digital farming footprint and further invests in helping growers take advantage of big data generated in farming and beyond.

“Growers are embracing cutting-edge technology and tools that can help them increase crop yields,” said Scott Kay, vice president of crop protection with BASF North America. “ZedX’s innovative platforms and strong intelligence capabilities will not only enhance our current digital services, but will also provide growers with critical data to successfully manage their operations.”

In a time where digital transformation is changing business, BASF aims to ensure that agronomic insights and recommendations from digital solutions help its customers make better, more informed decisions.

BASF is playing an active role in the digital transformation of agriculture and is constantly evaluating where and how to engage further,” said Jürgen Huff, senior vice president of global strategic marketing with BASF’s crop protection division. “ZedX’s experts impressed us with their extensive and deep know-how in agronomic models. We are very pleased to incorporate their knowledge into our offers to serve farmers’ needs through innovative products and services.”

Joe Russo, ZedX’s founder and president, pointed out that during a three-year collaboration, the partnership has already shown great results.

“Our modeling expertise, coupled with BASF’s knowledge of chemistry, has truly benefited growers and agriculture in general,” he said. “For example, we developed a model that gave the right window of application for a BASF herbicide based on important weather and environmental conditions.”

Weather conditions, soil temperature, windspeed – all of these factors can influence the performance of crop protection products. By acquiring ZedX, BASF will be able to help farmers use their resources more efficiently and sustainably. Additionally, the ZedX acquisition further complements BASF’s digital farming portfolio, which includes Maglis and Compass Grower Advanced. Maglis is an online platform that connects technology, data and people in a smarter way. It offers a range of integrated and intuitive tools that guide farmers from planning and planting to harvest.

“The smart use of digital solutions can open up all sectors of the economy to many new opportunities, and farming is no exception. ZedX is a great fit to our growth plan. We will strengthen our sales by offering targeted advice, insights and recommendations and by interacting more closely with our customers,” concluded Huff.

The acquisition is expected to be completed within four weeks. Products and solutions from ZedX will soon be available to all key markets. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.
Published in Companies
April 21, 2017, Morgantown, WV - Gallegly, West Virginia University professor emeritus of plant pathology, has made it his mission to develop a disease-free tomato.

Gallegly and his research partner, Mahfuz Rahman, released two new varieties of tomato.

The tomatoes, identified as West Virginia ’17A and West Virginia ’17B, were obtained by breeding the tomatoes known as the West Virginia ’63 and the Iron Lady.

Gallegly developed the W.Va. ’63 tomato in the 1960s as a tomato resistant to late blight, a plant disease usually caused by fungi. The Iron Lady tomato, developed by Martha Mutschler-Chu of Cornell University, also resists late blight but also Septoria lycopersici, a fungus that causes spotting on leaves.

Gallegly said the stink bug, specifically the marmorated stink bug, is the likely cause of Septoria increasing on tomatoes.

“We just crossed the two tomatoes and in the second generation in the field, we made selections for fruit type, yield, taste and so on,” Gallegly said. “So we came up with two new varieties.”

Through their evaluation, the two tomatoes should have a higher tolerance to Septoria leaf spot and better fruit quality.Tomatoes are a specialty of Gallegly, who turns 94 this month.

He came to the University in 1949 as an assistant professor and was hired to become the vegetable plant pathologist for the state.

He spent his first fall and winter at the university collecting varieties of tomatoes and potatoes. The next year, he planted varieties of the two vegetables and discovered late blight was severe that year. So much so that he had zero tomato yield.

“That told me I had to go to work on trying to control this disease,” he said.

After 13 years of screening the vegetables and research, he came up a new tomato in 1963 — the West Virginia ’63.

Gallegly officially retired from the University in 1986 but earned emeritus status and kept a presence at the college to continue research and teaching.

On March 24, the two new tomatoes were unveiled during the annual Potomac Division of the American Phytopathological Society meeting in Morgantown. READ MORE
Published in Research
For fruit growers across the globe, birds are a common bane, particularly for those seeking a quiet, humane and cost-effective mitigation strategy. Starlings are especially unsavory interlopers as they not only spread disease but often destroy an entire crop, forcing growers to walk away and leave everything on the tree.
Published in Harvesting
March 27, 2017, Ridgetown, Ont – The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) has released its 2017 schedule for integrated pest management (IPM) workshops for those who will be scouting horticultural crops this year. To register, please contact OMAFRA’s Agricultural Information Contact Centre at 1-877-424-1300.

Planning is also underway for scout training workshops for hops, hazelnuts and berry crops. Details for these workshops will be available soon.          

Introduction to IPM
May 2, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Conference Rm 1, 2 and 3, 1st Floor, 1 Stone Rd. West, Guelph
Workshop Leader: Denise Beaton
Notes: Lunch on your own. Handouts provided. Pay parking ($12/day).
 
Tomatoes & Peppers
April 28, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.          
Room 126 (Main Floor), Agronomy Building, University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus
Workshop Leader: Janice LeBoeuf
Notes: Lunch on your own. Handouts provided. See Resources for Vegetable Crop Scouts.

Asparagus    
Field sessions available upon request
Email: Elaine Roddy, Vegetable Specialist – This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Cole Crops    
May 8, Time: TBD
Conference Rm 2, 1st Floor, 1 Stone Rd. West, Guelph
Workshop Leader: Dennis Van Dyk
Notes: Lunch on your own. Handouts provided. Pay parking ($12/day). See Resources for Vegetable Crop Scouts.

Lettuce, Celery, Onions, Carrots    
May 10, Time: TBD
Conference Rm 2, 1st Floor, 1 Stone Rd. West, Guelph
Workshop Leader: Dennis Van Dyk
Notes: Lunch on your own. Handouts provided. Pay parking ($12/day). See Resources for Vegetable Crop Scouts.

Sweet Corn, Bean and Pea
May 11, 9:30 a.m. to noon
Room 126 (Main Floor), Agronomy Building, University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus
Workshop Leader: Elaine Roddy
Notes: Lunch on your own

Cucurbit Crops
May 11, 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Room 126 (Main Floor), Agronomy Building, University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus
Workshop Leader: Elaine Roddy
Notes: Lunch on your own

Apples
May 4, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Auditorium, Simcoe OMAFRA Resource Centre
Workshop Leader: Kristy Grigg-McGuffin
Notes: Lunch on your own. Handouts provided. If possible, bring OMAFRA Publications 360 & 310 (available for purchase as well).

Tender Fruit and Grape      
May 9, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Rittenhouse Hall, Vineland OMAFRA Resource Centre
Workshop Leader: Wendy McFadden- Smith
Notes: Bring a laptop with WiFi capability. Lunch on your own.

Ginseng (IN-FIELD)  
June 15, 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. (Rain date: June 16, 1 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.)
C&R Atkinson Farms Ltd., 228 Charlotteville Rd. 1, St. Williams
Workshop Leaders: Sean Westerveld and Melanie Filotas

Published in Vegetables
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) scientist Bob Vernon continues his work with wireworm controls for good reason.
Published in Insects
A non-descript building in an industrial park in the Okanagan region of B.C. could be the setting of an Alfred Hitchcock movie.  
Published in Insects
February 6, 2017, Caribou, ME – McCain Foods has started trials examining soil fumigation with several of its growers.

In an effort to boost yields with its contract growers of russet processing potatoes, McCain Foods has been conducting trials of fumigation on a small number of acres with farmers who have had yield problems with nematodes, verticillium wilt and other fungal soil pests. The Florenceville, NB, company has been conducting similar trials with its growers in Canada. READ MORE
Published in Companies

December 6, 2016, Ottawa, Ont – Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s Minister of International Trade, shares the Canadian Horticultural Council’s (CHC) concern over France’s ban of products from countries where dimethoate is registered as a pesticide.

Dimethoate is used for control of sucking and chewing insects and fruit flies, and is currently used in orchards after harvest for control of western cherry fruit flies. READ MORE

Published in Federal

December 1, 2016, Guelph, Ont – Bayer recently announced the launch of Velum Prime nematicide, the first non-fumigant nematicide registered for potatoes in Canada.

Velum Prime is a new mode of action and chemical class (pyridinyl ethyl benzamide) for nematode protection. It offers growers effective nematode protection that helps sustain plant vigor and maximize crop yield potential.

“The launch of Velum Prime in Canada provides protection against a yield robbing pest that, for many growers, didn’t have a viable solution outside of fumigants,” said Jon Weinmaster, crop and campaign marketing manager for horticulture and corn at Bayer. “Potato growers have made great advances in increasing yields and quality and this tool will help them take it a step further.”

Recent trials of Velum Prime demonstrated consistent yield and quality increases and reduction in plant parasitic nematodes, including root lesion, root knot and potato cyst nematode.

“Velum Prime is another tool for use in a complete nematode management program,” said Weinmaster.

Velum Prime is applied in-furrow at planting. It comes in a liquid formulation that offers reliable efficacy at low application rates, making it ideal for use with existing in-furrow application equipment. Plus, applied in-furrow, Velum Prime offers the added benefit of early blight protection.

Available in 4.04L jugs, Velum Prime is easy to apply, with minimal use restrictions, including flexible tank mix compatibility.

Maximum residue limits for Velum Prime applied in-furrow are in place supporting trade in North America and Europe. Additional MRLs supporting trade in other key export countries, including Japan, are expected early in 2017.

 

Published in Vegetables

October 5, 2016, Guelph, Ont – A potato IPM training module has been launched and can be found on the Ontario CropIPM website.

The module is a great educational tool with information for the common insect pests, diseases, viruses and disorders of potatoes in Ontario. For each pest or disease, summarized information can be found in the Beginner tab and more detailed information can be found under the Advanced tab. In the “often confused with” section of the entries you can view side-by-side photos of insects, disease, and disorders that cause similar symptoms. You can also find more information on soil diagnostics, weed identification, herbicide injury, and links to additional resources.

Make sure to bookmark the page today and use it as a resource for any IPM and pest related issues on potatoes.

Published in Insects

September 14, 2016, Agassiz, BC – Wireworm damage cost Price Edward Island potato growers around $6 million in 2014. Decades ago, the click beetle larvae were successfully controlled with chlorinated hydrocarbon insecticides. Those agents were banned in the 1970s and 1980s because of their toxicity to animals and their tendency to build up in the soil.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) has developed a new “attract and kill” method to decimate wireworm populations and limit crop destruction. READ MORE

Published in Research

July 22, 2016, Smithville, Ont – There is a delicate balance in nature between predator and prey. There are many natural pests, for example, that can threaten an orchard of fruit crops, but also many predators that can help keep those pests at bay. But what if the species helping to manage pest populations themselves become at risk?

That’s where on-farm protection of species at risk by farmers and landowners and the Species at Risk Farm Incentive Program (SARFIP) come in.

SARFIP, delivered by the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA) provides cost-share funding for farmers to implement best management practices that help protect essential habitats of species at risk located on-farm. The range of possible activities under the program applies to orchards, croplands, grasslands, stream banks, shorelines, wetlands, and woodlands.

Peter and Mary Bosman of Lincoln Line Orchards, a family-run fruit farm in the Niagara Peninsula, try to work with nature as much as possible to keep their trees healthy.

They grow 15 apple and five pear varieties on their 65-acre orchard, as well as some peaches and plums, with about 80 per cent of their fruit being retailed through their on-farm store outside of Smithville. A partnership with FoodShare gets their small pears into approximately 250 Toronto schools through a snack program.

Last year, the Bosmans accessed cost-share funding through SARFIP to install bat boxes throughout their orchards as a way of providing habitats for the little brown bat, an endangered bat species in Ontario.

Bats are essential for maintaining healthy ecosystems as they eat a lot of insects, including farm pests, and little brown bats are one of only two bat species in Ontario that are known to use human structures, such as barns, attics and abandoned buildings, as summer maternity colony habitats.

Bat populations are declining around the world, including Ontario, often because of disappearing habitat. In Ontario, bats also face challenges from a disease called White Nose Syndrome (a fungus that thrives in cold, humid environments) which disrupts bats’ hibernation cycles, burning up essential body fat supplies before the spring when they can begin foraging again.

“We’re not sure how many there are in the area currently, but we hope we can attract them by giving them habitats in our orchards,” explains Peter. “Bats hunt insects and moths and if we can increase the bat population, they’ll help us with natural insect control in the orchard.”

Four bat boxes have been installed atop long poles throughout the orchard. Each box can hold up to 600 bats, and all are close to water sources – either the farm’s ponds or Twenty Creek, which flows through the property.

To be eligible for SARFIP cost-share opportunities, Ontario farm businesses have to complete a third or fourth edition Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) workshop and have a verified complete Action Plan, as well as implement at least one SARFIP-eligible best management practice directly related to an action identified in their EFP Action Plan.

The Bosmans have previously completed projects through cost share programs delivered by OSCIA, as well as with Niagara Conservation, and are appreciative of funding programs like SARFIP to support on-farm improvements.

“We have six children on our family farm and our grandson is the fifth generation, so we try to do what we can to be natural and support nature,” says Bosman.

Published in Food Safety

April 28, 2016, Charlottetown, PEI – Christine Noronha, an entomologist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Charlottetown Research and Development Centre, has designed an environmentally green trap that could be a major breakthrough in the control of wireworms, an increasingly destructive agricultural pest on Prince Edward Island and across Canada.

In this exslusive webinar hosted by Potatoes in Canada magazine, Christine will share details about the Noronha Elaterid Light Trap (NELT). Don't miss the opportunity to ask questions and learn more from Christine Noronha.

Date: May 12, 2016

Time: 2 p.m. ADT (1 p.m. EDT)

Cost: $20

Register today!

Published in Insects

 

Over the past few years, the global agricultural industry – including Canada – has been abuzz with discussion about the use of pesticides on crops and the health of honeybees. Various hypotheses regarding colony collapse disorder (CCD) and the decline of honeybee colonies have been suggested and tested, leading to the banning of some classes of pesticides.

But, according to the latest research from Europe, one pesticide may not be the only culprit.

Researchers with the department of zoology at the University of Otago in New Zealand recently published a study in the journal Ecology examining what effect the organophosphate chlorpyrifos can have on honeybees. Insects were gathered from 17 sites around the Otago area. While levels of the pesticide in the bees were found to be well below the L50 point – the lethal dose for 50 per cent of the animals tested – “the formation and retrieval of appetitive olfactory memories was severely affected,” the researchers found.

“As learning and memory play a central role in the behavioural ecology and communication of foraging bees, chlorpyrifos, even in sublethal doses, may threaten the success and survival of this important insect pollinator,” they concluded.

In a study published recently in the Journal of Chromatography A, researchers with the National Veterinary Research Institute in Poland have discovered that European honeybees are being poisoned by up to 57 different pesticides.

“Bee health is a matter of public concern – bees are considered critically important for the environment and agriculture by pollinating more than 80 per cent of crops and wild plants in Europe,” said Tomasz Kiljanek, lead author of the study. “We wanted to develop a test for a large number of pesticides currently approved for use in the European Union to see what is poisoning the bees.”

Kiljanek and his team used a testing method called QuEChERS, typically used to look for pesticide residue on food, to analyze bees from 70 different poisoning incidents. They were able to test for 200 different pesticides simultaneously – about 98 per cent approved for use in the EU – plus additional compounds created when the pesticides break down.

Their results – 57 different pesticides were present in the bees. According to the study’s conclusions, “it is the broadest spectrum of pesticides and their metabolites, till now, detected in honeybees.”

“This is just the beginning of our research on the impact of pesticides on honeybee health,” said Kiljanek. “Honeybee poisoning incidents are the tip of the iceberg. Even at low levels, pesticides can weaken bees’ defense systems, allowing parasites or viruses to kill the colony. Our results will help expand our knowledge about the influence of pesticides on honeybee health and will provide important information for other researchers to better assess the risk connected with the mix of current pesticides.”

While the outcome of the project was to develop a new tool for studying which pesticides may actually be having a negative effect on honeybees, it has also shown that improving bee health isn’t as simple as banning one pesticide. The issue appears to be a bit more complicated than that.

 

 

 

Published in Research

March 14, 2016, Prince Edward Island – Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada entomologist Dr. Christine Noronha has designed a simple and environmentally green trap using hardware store items that could be a major breakthrough in the control of wireworms, an increasingly destructive agricultural pest on PEI and across Canada./span>

The Noronha Elaterid Light Trap, or “NELT”, is made with three pieces - a small solar-powered spotlight, a plastic white cup and a piece of screening. The light is set close to the ground to attract the source of the wireworms, the female click beetles that emerge from the ground in May and June. Each of these beetles can lay between 100 and 200 eggs that produce the larvae known as wireworms. In a six-week test with 10 traps, more than 3,000 females were captured in the plastic cups, preventing the birth of up to 600,000 wireworms. The screening prevents beneficial predator insects from being caught in the trap.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Office of Intellectual Property is trademarking the trap name and design and work is underway to find a manufacturer who might be interested in mass-producing the trap.

The NELT is the latest in a series of wireworm control measures being developed by a team that includes Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the PEI Potato Board, the PEI Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, the Pest Management Regulatory Agency, Cavendish Farms, the PEI Horticultural Association, growers and consulting agronomists. Wireworms live in the soil and drill their way through tuber and root crops like potatoes and carrots. The PEI Potato Board estimated wireworm damage to the province’s potato crop alone at $6 million in 2014.

To learn more about the NELT, be sure to sign up for an exclusive webinar with Christine Noronha, hosted by Potatoes in Canada magazine, on May 12.

Published in Insects

March 1, 2016 - A new invasive vinegar fly is threatening Ontario’s soft-skinned berry and tender fruit crops. But thanks to the Ontario Farm Innovation Program (OFIP), researchers and farmers are learning more about Spotted Wing Drosophila and how they can keep the pest from destroying their fruit.

Unlike common vinegar flies that are attracted to spoiled fruit, Spotted Wing Drosophila goes after healthy fruit just before harvest. It lays eggs underneath the skin of intact fruit, and as the larvae feed, the fruit tissue breaks down and becomes soft and leaky, resulting in decreased fruit quality and yield.

“Spotted Wing Drosophila has been on the radar in North America since 2010 and it was first identified in Ontario late that year following identification in other provinces and in the United States,” explains Hannah Fraser, horticulture entomology program lead with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

“It’s a new pest so we lacked a lot of knowledge on how it behaves in Ontario and how it moves across the landscape,” she adds. “And growers lacked awareness of the pest such as how to manage it and what kind of damage it can do. It takes a long time to learn about a new pest and we collaborate with researchers across Canada, the United States and Europe.”

Fraser and other researchers gathered information on the population dynamics of the fly in Ontario, investigated techniques to track risk and assess management strategies, and developed a platform for timely and efficient communication to growers and consultants.       

Baited traps were used to monitor activity in all of Ontario’s major fruit growing areas. Weekly fruit samples were collected at some sites to track infestation levels. Salt tests with ripe fruit were used as a quick method to assess infestation levels at harvest and gauge the effectiveness of pest management strategies.    

“The early regions of discovery are in Southwestern Ontario and Niagara, but we have found them as far north as New Liskeard,” says Fraser. “Through weekly blogs and newsletters, we can let growers know when Spotted Wing Drosophila is active and can recommend control measures they can take.”

This includes making changes to crop management, such as tightening of picking schedules, crop sanitation, well-timed insecticide sprays, and better post-harvest handling to preserve fruit quality.

Fraser says although they’re still learning about the pest, the information gathered so far has increased understanding of its behaviour in Ontario and helped growers manage its presence here.

In addition to trapping for adults, fruit should also be sampled at harvest to determine whether the fly is present on-farm and to avoid sending infested fruit to market, and salt water tests will help determine whether changes to sanitation or spraying schedules should be made, Fraser says.

“Because of research we’ve been able to do through this project, growers can strengthen pest management to avoid catastrophic loss and continue to produce great quality berries. If you don’t manage this pest, you can lose your crop,” she adds.

For the Ontario Berry Growers, the OFIP support was invaluable. Research into emerging pests is cost prohibitive for individual growers and allowing the organization to access funds to address this immediate, on-farm research need on behalf of all growers in the province means information can be gathered and shared quickly and effectively.

Published in Insects
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