WSU CAHNRS

Mount Vernon Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center

Small Fruit Horticulture Research & Extension Program

Small Fruit Research and Outreach Blog

July 20, 2017

2017 Soilborne Disease Management in Raspberry Field Day

July 17, 2017

The Washington Strawberry Commission is considering disbandment.  Read more about this development in the article below published in Capital Press.

Washington Strawberry Commission May Disband

July 15, 2017

Take care of weed control in perennial strawberry

July 11, 2017

Wednesday, July 12, from 1-5:30 pm will be the Oregon State University Blueberry Field Day.  The agenda and directions can be found in the link below.  Research updates and an introduction to new trials will be presented.

OSU Blueberry Field Day Agenda

July 10, 2017

Dr. John Clark wrote the following article about how southern highbush blueberries have advanced and really changed the blueberry industry.  Read more at Growing Produce.  Access to the article can be found below:

Southern Highbush Berries Have Turned the Blueberry World Upside-Down

July 7, 2017

This is another biodegradable mulch post.  We visited several commercial farms in Spain using biodegradable mulches.  They included a wide range of farm sizes and operations.  The photos below demonstrate a medium-sized farmer located along the coast (just outside of Barcelona) applying mulch films for his lettuce planting.  An interesting observation is that many growers in this area do not plant on raised beds, but rather flat beds because they do not need the thermal benefits of raised beds in this climate and for the time of year.  Another interesting observation is that the mulch film broke during application, demonstrating biodegradable mulch films differ from conventional polyethylene mulch.  The biodegradable mulch polymers become brittle and prone to breakage in heat – an important lesson to try to make applications early in the morning and to not leave film exposed in sunlight for too long, otherwise breakage can occur.   Regular polyethylene is more stable.  This farmer was aware breakage was going to occur, but wanted to demonstrate application using his all-in-one flat bed layer and hole puncher.

Applying biodegradable mulch with a flat-bed layer and hole puncher.

Close-up of this farmer’s flat-bed layer and hole puncher.

Breakage of biodegradable mulch during application due to mid-day heat.

 

Lettuce field planted into biodegradable mulch. The farmer was beginning to experiment with double cropping into biodegradable mulch films.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 6, 2017

This blog has been relatively inactive these past two weeks because I was traveling internationally in Spain and Italy to learn about commercial use of biodegradable mulches.  In addition, I presented at an international symposium and introduced some of the research going on in the WSU SFH program addressing the application of biodegradable mulches in small fruit production systems in northwest Washington.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll post photos and information about the trip.  Below are photos from a tour at Novamont in Novara, Italy.  They pioneered, developed, manufacture Mater-Bi, which is a bioplastic that is used to make biodegradable and compostable plastics with a broad range of applications, from plastic bags to agricultural mulch film (Bio360, a biodegradable mulch we are testing in strawberry and raspberry, is made with Mater-Bi).  Learn more bout Mater-Bi at: http://www.novamont.com/eng/mater-bi

Novamont has developed the technology and approaches to create Mater-Bi and produce many products.  The photo below shows a general depiction of how the monomer and polymeric feedstocks are created from plant-based products, such as botanical oils.  These are used to make nurdles, which are plastic pellets that can be blended and used to make various biodegradable and compostable materials.  After use, the plastic is eventually biodegradated and returned to the soil, which can be used to support plant growth that may be subsequently used to grow plants used to create Mater-Bi bioplastics once again.  This represents the circular economy that is an important foundation for Novamont and many biodegradable plastic users.

Bioplastic nurdles. These pellets are blended with other materials to create a biodegradable or compostable plastic.

Circular economy of bioplastics – from plant-based oils that are used to manufacture bioplastics to its biological degradation in soils or in composting conditions; this soil can then be used to grow the next generation of plants used in bioplastic synthesis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 25, 2017

Arkansas is exploring an emergency ban on dicamba, a common and widely used herbicide.  The challenge with dicamba is that it drifts easily and damages other crops, including beans, grapes, and even berry crops.  While this isn’t a PNW berry crop issue, it’s an interesting case study and demonstrates some pretty severe reactions to a widely used herbicide at multiple levels.  Read more at the article below:

Arkansas Moves to Ban Dicamba

http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/06/23/534117683/arkansas-tries-to-stop-an-epidemic-of-herbicide-damage

June 23, 2017

Mark you calendars!  The WSU NWREC field day has been scheduled.  Please see the official flier below.  Attendance is eligible for 3 pesticide credits.

Mount Vernon Field Day

June 20, 2017

Recently, the SFH program and collaborating scientists started to explore the application of biodegradable plastic mulches (BDMs) in small fruit production.  We currently have a project studying BDM application in spring- and fall (Aug.) planted raspberry in a project funded by the Washington Red Raspberry Commission and Washington Commission on Pesticide Registration.  We are also finalizing a study were we studied BDMs in day-neutral strawberry, specifically spring-planted ‘Albion’ and ‘Seascape’.  The paper is still in preparation, but overall we found yield was increased relative to bare ground strawberry production in western Washington.  Fruit quality variables were mostly unchanged, with strawberry grown with BDMs having comparable soluble solids, pH, and percent citric acid compared to fruit from plants grown with standard polyethylene (PE) mulches.  Weeds were also lower in mulched plots (both BDM and PE).  Overall, the BDM treatments performed similarly to standard PE mulch, suggesting that these could be promising tools in our small fruit production systems in Washington.  Further research is underway in raspberry and in fall-planted day-neutral strawberry.

Learn more about BDMs and other research projects with vegetable crops at: Biodegradable mulch.org

June 14, 2017

White strawberries are a rarity.  Learn more about this Japanese grower’s white strawberry from the video below (from Mark Bolda’s blog).

White Strawberry: https://vimeo.com/220367506

June 13, 2017

The OSU Blueberry Field day will be July 13 from 1-5:30 pm. The agenda has been released.  Please find below at:

Blueberry Field Day

June 12, 2017

Can CRISPER gene editing help control insect pests?  There is promise in this technology and applications in agriculture.  Learn more in the article below.

Is CRISPR/Cas9 a Viable Solution for the Control of Crop Insect Pests?

June 8, 2017

Spotted wing (Drosophila suzukii) was identified in Skagit County by Skagit County Pest Board  employees, Talea Price and Ben Diehl.  Six females and 2 males were caught.  The photo is courtesy of Don McMoran, Skagit County Extension Director.

Growers in Skagit can have free SWD monitoring in their fields.  If interested, contact Taela and Ben.  Their contact information is listed below.

Talea: talea.price@wsu.edu 

Ben: benjamin.diehl@wsu.edu

 

June 6, 2017

Growing Produce recently featured our raspberry biodegradable mulch project in their magazine.  Read more about this project by visiting the article below.

Exploring Biodegradable Plastic Mulches in Red Raspberry

Stay tuned and learn more about this project by visiting our Project & Activities webpage, which will have quarterly updates on the raspberry biodegradable mulch project.

Projects & Activities

 June 5, 2017

There will be a pollination workshop on Monday, June 12, in Albany, Oregon.  Please see the link below and remember to register.

ICP_Blueberry_Field_Day_2017

June 2, 2017

The annual Oregon State University Caneberry Field Day agenda has been released. The event will occur at the North Willamette Research and Extension Center on June 28 starting at 1 pm.  Further details, including the address for the center and program agenda, can be found below.

OSU Caneberry Field Day 2017

June 1, 2017

Budget plans from the president’s administration for 2018 have been recently released, which includes financial cuts to the United States Department of Agriculture.  Read more about the proposed cuts and reactions in the article below.

Congress and Farmers Are Shocked By Proposed USDA Cuts

May 31, 2017

The Washington State University (WSU) Strawberry Field day was just announced.  Please see details below:

WSU Strawberry field day

Date: Wednesday  June 1, 2016

Time: 1:00-3:00 pm

Where: Goss Farm (formerly Farm 5)

15403 Bowman-Hilton Road, Puyallup, WA, 98372

May 30, 2017

The Oregon Strawberry Field Day is a little less than a week away.  Please see the flier below for the agenda and location instructions.

Oregon State University Strawberry Field Day

May 29, 2017

Another post for May 26.  The article below from Capital Press highlights the damage observed in southwest Washington and Oregon blackberry fields due to the cold winter and wet spring.

Blackberry Damage due to Cold Winter and Wet Spring

May 26, 2017

Here is an interesting and fun article (with a TED video) for the Memorial Day weekend.  Ever wonder what the future of agriculture will look like and what innovations are in the pipeline?  The article and TED Talks video below addresses this topic.

TED Talks Take on Agriculture Innovation

May 25, 2017

Norcal strawberry nursery was acquired by Planasa, a berry-centered horticultural company based in Spain.  Read more about this acquisition at the link below:

Planasa acquires Norcal

May 24, 2017

There will be a Blueberry Pollination Field Day on June 12 from 9-11:30 am in Albany, Oregon.  Please see the link below for the agenda and additional information:

Blueberry Pollination Field Day

May 23, 2017

Many of you may be aware of our trials done in cooperation with Dr. Dave Bryla (USDA-ARS scientist) regarding humic acid application in red raspberry.  We have done trials in newly planted and established raspberry for two years now.  Below is a progress report of that work.  To date, data suggests humic acids promote root and shoot growth and subsequent establishment of raspberry plated as tissuehttp://smallfruits.wsu.edu/efficacy-of-humic-acid-amendments-in-promoting-root-health-in-red-raspberry/ culture plugs, but we have observed few impacts in established raspberry.

2016 Humic Acid Progress Report.05082017

Learn more about our previous trials at: http://smallfruits.wsu.edu/efficacy-of-humic-acid-amendments-in-promoting-root-health-in-red-raspberry/

May 18, 2017

Drones are increasingly being looked at as a potential tool to overcome pollination constraints and barriers in agriculture.  Read more how a research team modified a hummingbird sized robot to perform pollination services.  The robot was remote-controlled and both hair and an ionic liquid gel were added to help aid pollen transfer.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chempr.2017.01.012 

May 17, 2017

As growers in the Pacific Northwest struggle with this particularly cold and wet spring, European growers are also being challenged  by the impacts of frost events in late April.  Read more at the link below:

https://www.freshfruitportal.com/news/2017/05/16/european-growers-still-assessing-unprecedented-frost-impacts-says-freshfel-chief/

May 16, 2017

The link below is to a recently published scientific article by Takeda et al. (2017) called, “Applying New Technologies to Transform Blueberry Harvesting.  It describes recent collaborative research efforts to develop improved systems for mechanical harvesting of fresh market blueberries.  A semi-mechanical harvesting system consisting of a harvest-aid platform with soft fruit catching surfaces that collect fruit detached by portable, hand-held, pneumatic shakers was evaluated and compared to hand harvested fruit.  The investigators found the pneumatic shakers removed 3.5 to 15 times more fruit than by hand harvesting.  The modified catching surfaces also reduced bruising, but fruit firmness was still greater in hand harvested fruit relative to fruit harvested with the pneumatic shaker in some cultivars.  The ergonomic aspects of this modified harvest system was also evaluated and overall back, shoulder, and forearm muscle strain was found to be low.  The article highlights the advances being made in mechanical harvesting systems for fresh market quality blueberry.

10.3390/agronomy7020033

May 15, 2017

If you are concerned about premature fruit drop in ‘Draper’ blueberry, the time for considering foliar applications of calcium has or will soon be quickly approaching depending on your region and the phenology of your plants.  British Columbia researcher, Eric Gerbrandt, has been leading this research and we have done some collaborative trials in Washington.  Below is a presentation by PhD student Matt Arrington describing his research with calcium (and boron) and how it impacts fruit set and quality in blueberry.

 May 11, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Small Fruit Horticulture program teamed up with the Vegetable Horticulture program to establish a biodegradable plastic mulch (BDM) experiment in a grower cooperator field in Whatcom County today.  The field is being planted with tissue culture (TC) plugs of ‘Wakefield’, which we believe will establish better under mulch.  The objectives of this collaborative project funded by the Washington Red Raspberry Commission and Washington Commission for Pesticide Registration are:

  1. Evaluate weed incidence with BDMs in comparison to bare ground (standard, herbicide treated control) and polyethylene (PE mulch; control) in establishing TC red raspberry in both spring and fall planted systems in northwest Washington.
  2. Monitor surface and in-soil degradation of BDMs in spring and fall planted raspberry systems.
  3. Assess populations of root lesion nematodes (Pratylenchus penetrans; RLNs) in the soils and roots of raspberry before and after using biodegradable and PE mulches; populations will also be compared across treatments.
  4. Evaluate growth and establishment of raspberry grown with BDM and PE mulch in comparison with bare ground.

We are testing four BDM treatments: BIO360 at 0.5 mil, BIO360 at 0.6 mil, Organix at 0.5 mil, and Organix at 0.6 mil.  These treatments will be compared to herbicide-treated bare ground and PE mulched (non-degradable) plots.

A full list of the investigators is below:

  • Huan Zhang, MS Student in Horticulture at WSU NWREC
  • Shuresh Ghimire, PhD Student in Horticulture at WSU NWREC
  • Carol Miles, Professor of Vegetable Horticulture at WSU-NWREC
  • Chris Benedict, Extension Educator, WSU Extension Whatcom County
  • Inga Zasada, USDA-ARS Plant Pathologist in Corvallis, OR
  • Lisa DeVetter, Assistant Professor of Small Fruit Horticulture at WSU NWREC

Special thanks to our grower cooperators, Rader Farms.

May 10, 2017

More Food Safety Training events have been scheduled.  These two events will occur in Oregon.  Plase see the link below for more information.

http://mailchi.mp/a5493c5abf4a/food-safety-training-train-the-trainer-for-berry-growers?e=5b4c67a035 

May 9, 2017

Many blueberry growers in western Washington struggle with insect-mediated pollination.  For one, honey bees (Apis mellifera) is not active during cool, wet, and windy conditions, which were common this spring and may limit fruit set and resultant yields.  There are also other issues that make integrating them complicated.  This is why alternatives are being pursued, such as drones.  Read the article below to learn more about advances in drone technology seeks to provide pollination services.

http://money.cnn.com/2017/02/15/technology/bee-drone-pollination/ 

May 8, 2017

Please welcome Clara TeVelde.  Clara joined the SFH program this May and will be a summer research intern working on our blueberry cultivar trial at WSU NWREC.   As part of her internship, she will also assist with other research projects to expand her knowledge of small fruit horticulture.

Clara was born and raised in Whatcom County on a seed potato farm. She is graduating from Washington State University this May with her B.S. in Integrated Plant Sciences.  She has worked in small fruits since she was fifteen and has grown to love the industry. After this internship, she hopes to either go to graduate school or find a job related to agriculture in either Whatcom County or Skagit County. In her spare time she loves to grow a variety of dahlias and learn new things about plants.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 7, 2017

Below is a link describing a recent scientific article published in The Journal of Economic Entomology by Alburaki et al. (2017).  Alburaki and his co-authors find in row-cop agriculture, “the benefits of better nutrition sources and nectar yields found in agricultural areas outweigh the risks of exposure to agricultural pesticides.”  Learn more by accessing the link below.

http://vegetablegrowersnews.com/news/scientists-say-agriculture-good-honeybees/ 

May 5, 2017

The flier and agenda for the Oregon State University Strawberry Open House on June 7 has been released.  Please see the link and agenda below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strawberry field day 2017

May 4, 2017

For those interested in biodegradable plastic mulches, there will be a hands-on biodegradable mulch field day on May 25 in Ephrata, WA.  Please see the flier and link below for additional information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BDM Field Day Flyer 5-25-17

May 2, 2017

Welcome to the newest member of the Small Fruit Horticulture team, Huan Zhang!  Huan will be studying for his M.S. degree and will be advised by Dr. Lisa DeVetter and co-advised by Dr. Carol Miles.  Please read his biography below.

Huan is from Xi’an, the most historical city in China. Not too many people know this city, but they definitely know the ‘Terra-Cotta Warriors’ at his hometown. Huan attended University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Northwest Agriculture & Forestry University and received his B.S. in Horticulture. He has been in horticulture fields for many years and worked for agronomy and plant pathology laboratories during his junior and senior years. However, he gradually realized that his real interest is in field fruit and vegetable production. For Huan’s MS, he will be working on a project studying the application of biodegradable mulches in tissue culture red raspberry.

Email: huan.zhang@wsu.edu

 

 

 

 

May 1, 2017

Dates of field days are getting released and finalized. Please see blow information about upcoming field days.

Washington State University Field Days

  • Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center Annual Field Day, July 13, 3 pm
    • Location: Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center (WSU NWREC) in Mount Vernon, WA
    • Description: This annual field day will include a three-stop tour where graduate students will provide short presentations of their research next to field plots.  A poster session, barbecue, and children’s art show are also scheduled.  This field day provides a great opportunity to learn about research being done in the disciplines of small fruit and vegetable horticulture, plant pathology, entomology, food science, plant breeding, and animal science.  It also provides a good opportunity to interact with researchers.  Admission is free.
  • Soilborne Disease Management in Raspberry Field Day, July 32, 2 pm
    • Location: Lynden (specific site TBA)
    • This annual field day will provide an update soilborne disease management research and decision management tools to improve management of soilborne diseases in raspberry fields.  We are re-formatting how this field day will be delivered, with more discussion and participation planned.  This event is free.

Oregon State University’s Field Days at the North Willamette Research and Extension Center in Aurora, OR

  • Strawberry Field Day, June 7, 1 – 4pm
  • Caneberry Field Day, June 28, 1-5pm
  • Blueberry Field Day, July 12, 1 – 5pm

Washington State University Field Days
Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center Annual Field Day, July 13, afternoon
Location: Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center (WSU NWREC) in Mount Vernon, WA
Description: This annual field day will include a three-stop tour where graduate students will provide short presentations of their research next to field plots. A poster session, barbecue, and children’s art show are also scheduled. This field day provides a great opportunity to learn about research being done in the disciplines of small fruit and vegetable horticulture, plant pathology, entomology, food science, plant breeding, and animal science. It also provides a good opportunity to interact with researchers. Admission is free.
Western Washington Annual Small Fruit Field Day, TBA
This annual field day will provide an update small fruit field research and offer hands-on learning opportunities. The field day will be held in Lynden, WA, and admission will be free. Stay tuned for more details.
Oregon State University’s Field Days at the North Willamette Research and Extension Center in Aurora, OR
Strawberry Field Day, June 7, 1 – 4pm
Caneberry Field Day, June 28, 1-5pm
Blueberry Field Day, July 12, 1 – 5pm

 

April 28, 2017

The pollination season for blueberry is here.  Some growers have struggled getting their bees into fields early enough due to all of the precipitation this winter/spring, making soils very wet and subsequent delivery and movement of hives difficult.  However, soils have been drying out to some extent with these dry/windy spells and I am starting to see more honey bee hives in western Washington. Hopefully, weather moving forward this year will be suitable to keep them healthy and productive.

‘Draper’ blossoms in Skagit County on April 26, 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 27, 2017

One area of research in our raspberry program is use of biodegradable plastic mulches to improve establishment of tissue culture plugs during establishment and to promote on-farm efficiencies by reducing labor inputs that normally go into weeding and/or herbicide applications in young fields.  Biodegradable mulches are appealing because they should safely biodegrade into the environment, making mulch removal unnecessary and also reducing the amount of non-recyclable plastic that otherwise goes into the waste stream.  The following articles below released this April demonstrates that a worm species was found to be able to biodegrade polyethylene (conventionally, a non-degradable plastic), which is unusual and may be harnessed to help reduce plastic waste in our environment.  Two links are provided below – one to a popular press article describing the discovery and one to the peer-reviewed journal article.

Popular press: https://phys.org/news/2017-04-caterpillar-bags-biodegradable-solution-plastic.html 

Original scientific article: DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.02.060

April 26, 2017

A late-season Train-the-Trainer program is scheduled for June 14-15 at WorkSource Skagit in Mt. Vernon.  Please review the link below for additional information, including a draft flier and a document that clarifies requirements.

TRAIN-THE-TRAINER_PROGRAM_SCHEDULED_FOR_WESTSIDE

April 25, 2017

With pollination season here or nearly here, as well as many growers attempting to make timely pesticide applications in their fields, I wanted to share the following resource on best management practices for pesticide use during pollination.

https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/pnw591

April 21, 2017

We are collecting data on floral morphologies of different cultivars and I wanted to share this photo of a blueberry x huckleberry cross from Dr. Amit Dhingra (WSU professor of horticulture).  We’ll be growing this cross in our cultivar trial at WSU NWREC.  Of interest was the flower morphology and overall low flower bud set.  Even though we will not be harvesting fruit from these plants once in the ground for 1-2 years, the overall low fruit bud set is interesting and will be something to monitor as this plant mature.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 20, 2017

Please find below links available to download the following presentations from the workshop held on April 20, 2017.  The title of the workshop was, “Small Fruit Food Safety Workshop – Managing from Field to Market”.  Please note some of the information in these presentations are subject to change, particularly information regarding the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).  Special thanks to the Washington Red Raspberry Commission and Washington Blueberry Commission for their support.  Also, special thanks to all of the speakers.

How to Test Irrigation Water
Kent Oostra, Exact Scientific

Implementing FSMA in the Field – What we do and Don’t Know about What FDA will Expect from Growers
Anne Morrell, Hansen Fruit Co. (to be uploaded later)

Global G.A.P. Certification for Blueberry Growers – Overview
Astrid Goplen, Goplen Ag Services

What is Really Happening to those Berries Once they Leave your Farm? Food Safety throughout the Food Chain
Stephanie Smith, Washington State University

April 19, 2017

The following article by McArt et al. (2016) was published last November and I thought now would be a good time to share the take-home messages, given we are approaching bloom time in Washington blueberry. The title of the article is “Floral Scent Mimicry and Vector-Pathogen Associations in a Pseudoflower-Inducing Plant Pathogen System”. The take home messages of this article are:

  • “Pseudoflowers” mimic plant flowers and their volatiles. They are created by fungal pathogens to promote dispersal of spores via insects. This mechanism was studied in blueberry infected with mummy berry [Monilinia vaccinii-corymbosi (Mvc)].
  • The scientists developed a lab-based method to detect Mvc spores on honey bees, flies, and other potential insect vectors. They also collected volatiles from flowers and leaves (healthy and infected) from blueberry and manipulated these volatiles to assess attractiveness to potential insect vectors.
  • Both bees and flies contacted flowers more than the other assayed insects; they also contacted healthy and infected leaves, with flowers contacted the most. Bees contacted flowers more than flies, but flies contacted infected leaves more than bees.
  • Bees had more Mvc spores on their bodies than flies, indicating they may be more effective vectors at transmitting these spores relative to flies.
  • Leaves infected with Mvc spores produced volatiles that were different from healthy leaves, but similar to flowers; two of these volatiles were attractive to bees (none of the other assayed volatiles were attractive to flies nor other insects included in the study).
  • Summary – Infection by Mvc spores on blueberry leaves induces mimicry of floral volatiles, which promotes infection of flowers through insect dispersal of fungal spores. Honey bees are the most efficient transmitters of Mvc spores relative to flies and the other insects included in the study.

Check out the full article at: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0165761

April 18, 2017

LAST REMINDER TO REGISTER – there will be a workshop focused on food safety of small fruits on April 20, 2017. The event will be held in Prosser, WA, with broadcasting to Lynden and Mount Vernon. Further information and registration can be done at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2908400. The agenda can be found above and on the registration website.  Certificates will be available for those that attend and complete the workshop training.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 17, 2017

The Washington Red Raspberry Commission Spring Newsletter was released (WRRC Spring Newsletter).  Please note the following field days/events for 2017:
July 19      Machine Harvest Field Day,
time TBA, Maberry Packing Lake Field
July 20    British Columbia Clearbrook Substation Raspberry Field Day, time TBA, Clearbrook Research Station
July 31      Soilborne Disease Management Field Day, 2pm Lynden, location TBA, WSDA pesticide credits available   

April 14, 2017

As we gear up for the pollination season, I thought I’d share the interesting article published by Gibbs et al. (2016) titled, “Contrasting Pollinators and Pollination in Native and Non-Native Regions of Highbush Blueberry Production“.  The link the the full article is below at the end of this post.

Some of the interesting take-home messages are:

  • Flower visitation from honey bees (Apis mellifera) and other wild pollinators were compared in commercial ‘Bluecrop’ fields in British Columbia and Michigan.  Other variables measured include fruit set, berry size, seed number, yield, pollination deficits, and economic impact.
  • The authors wanted to see how these variables were impacted by region (British Columbia vs. Michigan, with British Columbia considered outside of the native blueberry production range) and local- and landscape-scale factors.
  • Wild bee diversity was greater in Michigan, where blueberry is in its native range and likely has better access to native pollinators specializing in Vaccinium -species pollination.
  • Honey bee visits were greater in Michigan than British Columbia, regardless of stocking rate; berry weights were lower and pollination deficits higher in British Columbia compared to Michigan.  I wonder if this is due to environmental conditions during the bloom time, as they tend not to be favorable to honey bee pollination in British Columbia (as well as northwest Washington).
  • Pollination services in British Columbia increased with greater abundance of wild bumble bees (Bombus spp).
  • The proportion of semi-natural habitat (versus disturbed habitat) at both scales (landscape and local) was positively correlated with wild bee abundance in both Michigan and British Columbia.
  • WIld pollinator abundance declined with distance from natural or semi-natural vegetative borders in Michigan, but not in British Columbia, which may be due to the flight ability of bumble bees found in higher populations in British Columbia.
  • Interestingly, honey bee stocking rate was not related to fruit set nor measured yield variables. This is in contrast to what we have observed in ‘Duke’ blueberry grown in Whatcom County, WA, in 2016 (study will be repeated in 2017).
  • Also interesting, wild bee abundance in blueberry fields increased when rows were oriented perpendicular to border vegetation (versus parallel), suggesting pollinator activity from wild bees and other pollinators may increase when oriented perpendicular to rows.
  • This study is interesting because it provides information that can be used to design improved pollination strategies for blueberry, which is an issue in northwest Washington.  This is an active area of research in the WSU Small Fruit Horticulture Program.

https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0158937

April 13, 2017

Reminder to Register – there will be a workshop focused on food safety of small fruits on April 20, 2017. The event will be held in Prosser, WA, with broadcasting to Lynden and Mount Vernon. Further information and registration can be done at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2908400. The agenda can be found above and on the registration website.

You can also listen to the following talk on “Meeting Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Standards”.  This talk was presented by Ms. Barbara Fick at the Western Washington Berry Workshop in March 2017.

April 12, 2017

Below is a link to an article on tips to improve pollination in blueberry published in the Oregon Blueberry Update Spring 2017:

http://oregonblueberry.com/update-S2017/bees.html 

April 11, 2017

Blueberry flower development is progressing along slowly in western Washington.  The photos below are of ‘Duke’ and ‘Draper’ blueberry, with fields at early to late pink bud development.  Development is expected to continue along slowly with the forecasted cool and wet weather.  However, some growers are preparing for pollination by beginning to bring in honey bees for pollination.

‘Duke’ blueberry flowers from Skagit County.

‘Draper’ blueberry flowers from Skagit County.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 10, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reminder – there will be a workshop focused on food safety of small fruits on April 20, 2017.   The event will be held in Prosser, WA, with broadcasting to Lynden and Mount Vernon. Further information and registration can be done at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2908400.  The agenda can be found above and on the registration website.

April 7, 2017

One pollination experiment we will be continuing on with from 2016 is the supplementation of honey bee pollination with bumble bees [native yellow-faced bumble bee (Bombus vosnesenskii)].  Bumble bees are widely believed to be more efficient pollinators of blueberry, as they tend to remain active under marginal weather conditions that otherwise limit honey bee pollination and are able to sonicate, or buzz pollinate, which promotes release of blueberry pollen.  In 2016, we observed no benefit of supplementing ‘Draper’ blueberry fields stocked with 3-4 honey bee hives/acre with an additional 3 hives/acre of bumble bees.  We are repeating the experiment in 2017 to see if we get consistent results across the years.   Given the current trajectory for this year’s bloom, we may observe more of a benefit from bumble bees given weather conditions have been cool and wet, which does not favor honey bee activity.

Interestingly, the following study by Cambpell et al. (2017) was recently published.  These investigators studied the impact of caged bumble bees (B. impatiens) in ‘Emerald’ and ‘Millennia’ blueberry grown in Florida and observed no increase in fruit set nor weight compared to open pollination.  Some of my entomology colleagues suggested this could be due to the effects of caging, which may interfere with bumble bee activity and reduce pollination.  It will be interesting to compare our results to this and other studies with bumble bees.  Our goal, however, will be to develop tools and recommendations on how growers can improve pollination and fruit set.  Sometimes knowing what doesn’t consistently work is equally as valuable as knowing what does work.

Campbell et al. (2017)

April 6, 2017

The WSU Small Fruit Horticulture program is gearing up to continue and initiate several new pollination experiments in blueberry during the 2017 growing season.  This blog will provide information on those trials and preliminary data as it develops.  The post below reviews data from the 2016 growing season presented by PhD Graduate Student, Matt Arrington.

April 5, 2017

Bloom time in blueberries is still some time away and development has been delayed due to cool, wet weather.  Yet, many growers are planning for the arrival of their honey bee hives and thinking about hive placement.  Improving pollination and fruit set is an active area of research within the WSU Small Fruit Horticulture program and updates on the research will be posted on this blog.  However, I thought I’d share the following article by Good Fruit Grower‘s Ross Courtney regarding best pollination practices. The article was written with tree fruit growers in mind, but many of the principles apply to other small fruits, including blueberry.

6 tips for healthier bees

April 4, 2017

Sticking with the same topic as yesterday, below is a presentation by Drs. Tom Walters and Alan Schreiber about disease management, with special attention to mummy berry and botrytis.  This presentation was delivered March 23, 2017, at the Western Washington Small Fruit Workshop and provides recent updates on disease management and fungicide efficacy.

April 3, 2017

Given we are entering a period when mummy berry pressure is at its highest, I am posting both Dr. Dalphy Harteveld’s presentation on mummy berry biology and the WSU Small Fruit Pathology Mummy Berry Update.  The weekly update provides information on development of the mummy berry mushroom (i.e., apothecia) and spore release in Whatcom and Skagit counties so that growers can better time their management. 

 

Mummy Berry Update

March 31, 2017

New Workshop Announced – the Small Fruit Food Safety Workshop – Managing from Field to Market. This event will occur on April 20, 2017. The event will be held in Prosser, WA, with broadcasting to Lynden and Mount Vernon. Further information and registration can be done at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2908400.  The agenda can be found below and on the registration website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 30, 2017

We are still scoring blueberry buds after our recent cold hardiness assay on Monday, March 27.  With leading bud stages advancing, we are seeing a predicted loss of hardiness in buds and flower tissues.  Pictures below demonstrate the observed damage in ‘Duke’ and ‘Draper’ at different temperatures relative to our control (i.e., not subjected to cold temperature treatments).

‘Draper’ bud and flower tissue damage at -14 C (6.8 F).

‘Draper’ control (not subjected to cold temperature treatments).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Duke’ bud and flower tissue damage at -14 C (6.8 F).

‘Duke’ control (not subjected to cold temperature treatments).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 29, 2017

Field days for the 2017 growing season are being scheduled.  Please see the dates below and stay tuned, as additional details will be posted on this blog as they develop.

Washington State University Field Days

  • Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center Annual Field Day, July 13, afternoon
    • Location: Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center (WSU NWREC) in Mount Vernon, WA
    • Description: This annual field day will include a three-stop tour where graduate students will provide short presentations of their research next to field plots.  A poster session, barbecue, and children’s art show are also scheduled.  This field day provides a great opportunity to learn about research being done in the disciplines of small fruit and vegetable horticulture, plant pathology, entomology, food science, plant breeding, and animal science.  It also provides a good opportunity to interact with researchers.  Admission is free.
  • Western Washington Annual Small Fruit Field Day, TBA
    • This annual field day will provide an update small fruit field research and offer hands-on learning opportunities. The field day will be held in Lynden, WA, and admission will be free.  Stay tuned for more details.

Oregon State University’s Field Days at the North Willamette Research and Extension Center in Aurora, OR

  • Strawberry Field Day, June 7, 1 – 4pm
  • Caneberry Field Day, June 28, 1-5pm
  • Blueberry Field Day, July 12, 1 – 5pm

March 28, 2017

Just an update on blueberry bud development.  Below are pictures of ‘Duke’ and ‘Draper’ fields located in Skagit County.  We are about three weeks behind from last year and weather conditions are still wet.  The leading bud stage for both cultivars is bud break, although a few buds can be found at tight cluster and early pink tip. 

‘Duke’ blueberry field in Skagit County (March 27, 2017)

‘Duke’ blueberry buds from a field in Skagit County (March 27, 2017)

‘Draper’ blueberry buds from a field in Skagit County (March 27, 2017)

‘Draper’ blueberry buds from a field in Skagit County (March 27, 2017)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 27, 2017

We received these plants last week from Dr. Amit Dhingra, WSU faculty member in the Department of Horticulture.  They are a type of huckleberry and we will be planting them in our blueberry cultivar trial here at WSU NWREC in the coming weeks.  Stay tuned for updates regarding this new plant material we have in our test plots.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 24, 2017

The Whatcom Ag Monthly published the following article on soil fumigation alternatives in red raspberry this week.  With the loss of broadcast applications of Telone C-35 in red raspberry systems in Washington, this article may be of particular interest to growers:

Evaluating Soil Fumigation Alternatives in Washington Raspberry Fields

 

March 23, 2017

Today is the day of the 2017 Western Washington Berry Workshop.  Today I am also announcing the Small Fruit Food Safety Workshop – Managing from Field to Market.  This event will occur on April 20, 2017.  The event will be held in Prosser, WA, with broadcasting to Lynden and Mount Vernon.  Further information and registration can be done at: http://bpt.me/2908400.  Note – we are getting sponsorship and the prices will be reduced to $30-40.  Stay tuned for more information.

March 22, 2017

One more reminder for the 2017 Western Washington Berry Workshop to be held Thursday, March 23. The cost is $15 and includes lunch.  Presentations will be made by speakers at the Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center in Mount Vernon, with remote sites available in Whatcom, Lewis, and Clark counties (lunch provided at remote sites, as well). To sign up and view the agenda, please go to:

Skagit Workshop
WSU NWREC
16650 SR 536
Mount Vernon, WA
Register HereFor more info:
Don McMoran
360-428-4270 ext 225
dmcmoran@wsu.edu
Clark County Workshop
American Legion Hall
4604 NE St James Rd
Vancouver, WA  98663
Register HereFor more info:
Erika Johnson
360-397-6060 ext 5738
erika.johnson@clark.wa.gov
Whatcom Workshop
NWWF, Rotary Building
1775 Front Street
Lynden, WA
Register HereFor more info:
Chris Benedict
360-778-5809
chrisbenedict@wsu.edu
Lewis County Workshop
351 NW North Street
Chehalis, WA
Register HereFor more info:
Sheila Gray
360-740-1214
sgray@wsu.edu

 

 

March 20, 2017

This posting comes from Knoxville, Tennessee.  I am attending an annual project meeting for a national biodegradable mulch research and extension project in the capacity of a project advisor.  This meeting is a great example of transdisciplinary collaboration and where there is good communication between researchers and industry members, particularly mulch manufacturers.

The application of biodegradable mulches in small fruit production systems is one area of interest in my own research and outreach program, which readers will hear more about as time and this blog evolves.  For now and for those interested in learning more about biodegradable mulches, I encourage you to visit the project’s website.  Of use for growers is the list of biodegradable mulch projects that are commercially available.  It is worthwhile to note that there are many different mulch products, each formulated differently and with varying thickness.  These differences will impact functionality and performance in the field.  If you are interested in using these products and learning more, please visit the website below and/or reach out to me; I will be happy to help pull together resources and information to help guide your decision.

https://www.biodegradablemulch.org/ 

Knoxville, TN biodegradable mulch field study site.

Developing techniques to measure in-soil mulch biodegradation in the field.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 18, 2017

This specimen was submitted to me yesterday, March 18.  It was collected in Sumas and appears to be the first brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys; BMSB) found in Whatcom County.  First evaluation by WSU entomologist, Dr. Bev Gerdeman, positively identified this specimen as BMSB.  BMSB has been found in BC and Oregon, as well as other counties in Washington.  There is concern about the impact this insect can have on small fruits, but time and research will tell.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 17, 2017

Our lab is halfway through evaluating and scoring blueberry buds from this week’s cold hardiness assay done on samples collected in Skagit County.  We evaluate damage by dissecting the three uppermost flower buds on six shoots per cultivar and temperature treatment under a microscope.  We then count the number of dead versus living flowers within each bud  (we also evaluate for damage at the vascular connection between the flower bud and shoot).  This week, we are seeing 100% of buds with damage in both ‘Duke’ and ‘Draper’ at -16 C (3.2 F).  We’re seeing less damage at -15 and -14 C (5 and 6.8 F, respectively).  Hardiness is decreasing fast relative to our previous assays in Skagit and is decreasing due to warmer temperatures and wet conditions. Despite this, I don’t see any immediate cause for concern at this point in time and with forecasted temperatures.  Another summary from this week’s assay will be posted next week.

‘Duke’ and ‘Draper’ blueberry samples ready to be loaded in the glycol bath for a cold hardiness assay.

‘Draper’ bud with damaged flowers (sample collected Feb. 1, 2016).

 

 

 

8:00 – Registration
8:15 – Opening Remarks, Don McMoran

Above Ground Diseases
8:30 am – Mummy Berry Biology, Dalphy Harteveld
9:10 am – Botrytis Resistance, Tobin Peever
9:50 am – Break
10:05 am – Disease Management, Tom Walters

Below Ground Diseases
10:45 am – Pre-plant to replant: Improving Management of Root Lesion Nematodes in Red Raspberry, Lisa DeVetter and Inga Zasada
11:45 am – Screening Phytophthora rubi for Fungicide Resistance, Jerry Weiland
12:15 pm – Lunch

Nutrient Management
1:00 pm – Nutrient Management Update for Blueberry and Raspberry, Lisa DeVetter
1:45 pm – Post-Harvest Nitrogen Test, Aime Messiga
2:30 pm – Meeting Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Standards, Barbara Fick
3:15 pm – Evaluation
3:30 pm Adjourn

Skagit Workshop
WSU NWREC
16650 SR 536
Mount Vernon, WA
Register HereFor more info:
Don McMoran
360-428-4270 ext 225
dmcmoran@wsu.edu
Clark County Workshop
American Legion Hall
4604 NE St James Rd
Vancouver, WA  98663
Register HereFor more info:
Erika Johnson
360-397-6060 ext 5738
erika.johnson@clark.wa.gov
Whatcom Workshop
NWWF, Rotary Building
1775 Front Street
Lynden, WA
Register HereFor more info:
Chris Benedict
360-778-5809
chrisbenedict@wsu.edu
Lewis County Workshop
351 NW North Street
Chehalis, WA
Register HereFor more info:
Sheila Gray
360-740-1214
sgray@wsu.edu

 

March 15, 2017

Due to the shortage of Telone (specifically 1,3-dichloropropene; 1,3-D), Trident Ag. has decided to stop broadcast applications of Telone and only apply it via bed fumigation in raspberry. This leaves some growers questioning how to move forward with their soilborne disease management plans, as many growers relied on broadcast applications of Telone. I thought this would be a good opportunity to highlight the following research by Drs. Tom Walters and Inga Zasada. They have studied bed fumigation, as well as compared broadcast applications of Telone C-35 to Vapam and Dominus. Please read more at the following link below. In short, bed fumigation is a good tool for root lesion nematode management and reduces buffers. However, for those that elect to not bed fumigate, broadcast applications of Vapam and Dominus have been promising in sandy loam soils, where nematodes tend to reside shallower in the soil profile.

UPDATE ON DOMINUS®, VAPAM®, AND BED FUMIGATION TRIALS

 

March 14, 2017

Welcome the the Small Fruit Horticulture research blog.  The purpose of this blog is to share information about small fruit horticulture, as well as to provide regular updates on activities being conducted by the small fruit horticulture program led by Dr. DeVetter.

Today, I’ll start by summarizing development.  Development still continues slowly in both raspberries and blueberries and it’s been wet on both sides of the mountains.  My estimates are that we are 2-3 weeks behind development relative to last year, depending on the location. Cold hardiness in blueberry (‘Duke’ and ‘Draper’) has decreased rapidly these past 2-3 weeks based on our assays in Mount Vernon, but there is no immediate cause for alarm as I don’t foresee temperatures reaching the point where we start to see damage in our experiments.

Seems like a lot of growers are waiting for a break in weather to work their fields and/or fixing irrigation systems as weather permits. Field activity is low for those that have gotten their pruning done. My research program has also been waiting for a break in the weather to start spring soil sampling and establishing 2017 field experiments (more on that later).

We started this morning collecting ‘Duke’ and ‘Draper’ stem samples in Skagit County for our cold hardiness assay today. The pictures below demonstrate the developmental stage and how wet some of our fields are right now.

‘Duke’ samples collected on March 14, 2017, in Skagit County, WA.

Blueberry fields are wet! Growers and researchers alike are waiting for a break in the weather.

‘Draper’ samples collected on March 14, 2017, in Skagit County, WA.

 

 

 

Small Fruit Horticulture Research & Extension Program , WSU Mount Vernon NWREC, 16650 State Route 536, Mount Vernon, WA 98273-4768 USA, 360-848-6120, FAX 360-848-6159
© 2017 Washington State University | Accessibility | Policies | Copyright | Log in