West central Michigan small fruit update – Aug. 24, 2021

West central Michigan has been with no rain for the las 12 days, favoring excellent conditions for strawberry, raspberry and blueberry harvest.

Raspberry field.
Raspberry field with pruning and plastic mulching to limit spotted wing Drosophila survival and allow better penetration of insecticide applications. Photo by Carlos Garcia-Salazar, MSU Extension.

Michigan fruit production remains the main agricultural activity during this time of the year in west central and southwest Michigan fruit production regions. After some heavy storms that occurred at the beginning of the month, there has been a dry period already lasting for more than 12 days. For the past seven days, minimum and maximum daily temperatures have been on average 64 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively. Likewise, there has not been any substantial rainfall over the same period.

Small fruit production and harvest in west central Michigan comprises day-neutral strawberries, red raspberries and blueberries. Regarding strawberries, day-neutral strawberries are in harvest. Fruit quality is great and yield is average. There have been some problems with daily high temperatures that had some deleterious effects on pollination. That was especially visible in flowers that opened during days when temperatures reached the upper 80s and 90s.

Pest problems, on the other hand, are limited to spotted wing Drosophila (SWD). Numbers of flies trapped at strawberry fields are relatively high. However, daily harvest and insecticide applications at the right moment are keeping SWD populations under control.

Red raspberries just started ripening. The variety Polka is being harvested and yield and fruit size is excellent. Problems in raspberries so far are centered on SWD management. However, growers are on top of the pest problem. Daily and timely insecticide applications are limiting the impact of SWD. At least in one case, the grower has modified his trellis systems to allow better penetration of the insecticide and reduce the humidity inside the canopy (see above photo).

Regarding blueberries, the harvest of early and mid-season varieties for fresh and processing in southwest blueberry fields has concluded. The only remaining varieties still being harvested for fresh are late-season varieties like Elliott and Aurora. In west central Michigan, blueberry harvest for fresh has continued and it is possible it will continue until mid-September. Fruit quality of late-season varieties is excellent.

Problems reported by growers are related to SWD. Numbers of flies trapped in our monitoring network remains high, but growers have been successful in maintaining a very good control. On factor that has contributed to limit the impact of the SWD is the weather, dry and hot, which limits the survival of females and increases their natural mortality.

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