Spotted Wing Drosophila: For Michigan, It’s A ‘Game-Changer’

Growers should remove unharvested cherries and destroy them to cut spotted wing drosophila populations, as Nikki Rothwell demonstrates with this golf cart.
Growers should remove unharvested cherries and destroy them to cut spotted wing drosophila populations, as Nikki Rothwell demonstrates with this golf cart.

This crop year has been the most challenging in Nikki Rothwell’s dozen years as Coordinator of Michigan State University’s Northwest Michigan Horticulture Research Center.

First, it was the hottest. Second, it was a huge cherry crop – both tart and sweet – the biggest since 2009. Third, a wicked hail storm hammered the crops of many growers, including Rothwell’s own cider apples.

“At my house (on the Leelanau Peninsula), we have a teeny little apple orchard,” she says, “and our apples got totally shredded.”

But even with all that, it wouldn’t have been nearly so bad if spotted wing drosophila (SWD) wasn’t such an ominous threat. It can explode so quickly, Rothwell says, that growers were spraying almost constantly.

“But even expensive spray programs don’t always work, there’s a lot of hit and miss, it’s unpredictable,” she says. “The pest is a game-changer for the tart cherry grower in Michigan.”

MRLs A Headache
Francis Otto of Cherry Bay Orchards in Traverse City wouldn’t disagree. One of the nation’s largest cherry growers, he farms 1,200 acres of tart cherries and 175 acres of sweet cherries at various locations in the state. The main thrust of his business is supplying Shoreline Fruit with the dried cherries sold at Costco stores.

Because many of those Costco warehouses are outside the U.S, Otto has to cope with the various maximum residue levels (MRLs) for pesticides permitted by other countries. But because he does farm in different parts of the state, he does have some enviable flexibility.

For example, this summer he was able to harvest 300 acres of tarts in Southwestern Michigan early, before SWD really took hold. Those tarts are destined for Europe.

“We’re really fighting the MRL issue,” Otto says. “Trying to keep SWD under control while meeting MRLs was a major problem this year.”

Because it’s cost-prohibitive for him to do blanket spraying, Otto has come up with a strategy in which he sprays alternate middles every three to five days.

“In the past we could stretch it out to 12 days, and it was not much of an issue,” he says. “Now, trying to juggle this is a logistics nightmare.”

He changes materials frequently to avoid resistance problems, and has found that Imidan (phosmet, Gowan) is working surprisingly well with MRLs. “They said you couldn’t use it 14 days before harvest,” he says, “but you can.”

Otto will use the alternate row strategy again next year, as it seemed effective. Despite the really big crop year, and the heat, he didn’t have SWD at a high enough level to be detected. But that doesn’t mean he won’t be watching like a hawk in 2017.

“You absolutely have to keep ahead of the curve; don’t let population numbers build up,” he advises. “You have to keep being proactive about keeping populations under control.”

Topics: , , ,

Leave a Reply

Pest Control Stories
Citrus
April 5, 2017
Chlorpyrifos’ Ban Reversed: Researchers React
Last week, EPA declined to ban the pesticide, which had been recommended for removal during the Obama administration. Read More
Pest Control
March 22, 2017
Fear of GMOs is Impacting Quality Food Research [Opinion]
Perhaps the greatest threat to our industry is a public that values instinctual opinion over careful research and the findings of experts who have dedicated years to their field of study. Read More
SWD On Raspberry
Pest Control
March 1, 2017
Key Insecticide for Growers at Risk
Bifenthrin, a pyrethroid used in battling such pests as spotted wing drosophila, is undergoing EPA scrutiny. Read More
Pest Control
August 21, 2016
Spotted Wing Drosophila: For Michigan, It’s A ‘Game-Changer’
Why the pest can be so much more destructive for Eastern cherry growers might be due to what they’re not farming. Read More
Harvesting
August 16, 2016
Proper Stockpiling Can Maintain Almond Quality
As almond yields increase, growers may find themselves with more harvested crop than processors can handle. Proper stockpiling techniques can Read More
Insect Control
May 26, 2016
Temperature, Location Key To Predicting Leaffooted Bug Pressure
This year, leaffooted bugs are expected to be a significant problem in almonds and pistachios, but watching temperature and the Read More
Disease Control
May 19, 2016
Native Plants Reduce Need For Vineyard Water, Pesticide Usage
Scientists in eastern Washington are finding drought-tolerant alternatives to roses at the end of vineyard rows that not only save Read More
Insect Control
May 16, 2016
Tips For Balancing Almond Mites And Predators
Almond growers need to do a delicate dance to keep spider mite populations down, but not so far that beneficial Read More
Crop Protection
May 6, 2016
Scouting Tips For Growing Grape Pest Threat
Grape growers should be on the lookout this fall for two pests that are popping up in vineyards along the Read More
Crop Protection
February 9, 2016
Biopesticides And IPM
Dr. Surendra Dara, Strawberry and Vegetable Crops Advisor and Affiliated IPM Advisor with University of California Cooperative Extension, has long Read More
field plot
Crop Protection
February 8, 2016
7 Steps To See If Biocontrols Pencil Out For Your Operation
Have you considered adding biocontrols to your operation? If you have, there’s no doubt you’ve already weighed the potential costs, Read More
Biofungicides supplement methyl bromide alternatives
Berries
February 5, 2016
Moving Beyond Methyl Bromide With Biofungicides
Editor’s note: University of California Farm Advisor Mark Bolda will present much more information on this topic at the Biocontrols Read More
Biocontrols USA 2016 logo
Crop Protection
February 5, 2016
Register Now For Biocontrols Conference 2016 Field And Greenhouse Tour
Space is limited, so register now to attend the first-ever Biocontrols USA 2016 Conference Field and Greenhouse Tour. Following the Read More
Pest Control
September 30, 2015
9 Things You Need To Know About Garden Symphylan
The garden symphylan is a pest to watch for as it can sporadic in some fields and a serious problems in others. Read More
USDA organic logo
Farm Management
June 29, 2015
The ROI On An Organic Checkoff [Opinion]
Organic agriculture is more profitable for farmers than conventional agriculture, according to a recent study published in the Proceedings of Read More
The Latest
Pest Control
May 3, 2017
Whitetail Deer: The Top Wildlife Threat …
Matt Springer, University of Kentucky Extension Agent, discusses the latest techniques for controlling deer, including deterrents, fencing, and hunting. Read More
Pest Control
April 25, 2017
How to Manage Three Key Potato Pests
Learn identification and control strategies to protect your crop. Read More
Citrus
April 17, 2017
Natural Enemies for Asian Citrus Psyllid
The eventual spread of Huanglongbing (HLB), or citrus greening, to commercial groves in California seems inevitable. But the devastation seen Read More
Citrus
April 5, 2017
Chlorpyrifos’ Ban Reversed: Resear…
Last week, EPA declined to ban the pesticide, which had been recommended for removal during the Obama administration. Read More
Pest Control
March 22, 2017
Fear of GMOs is Impacting Quality Food R…
Perhaps the greatest threat to our industry is a public that values instinctual opinion over careful research and the findings of experts who have dedicated years to their field of study. Read More
Pest Control
March 1, 2017
Key Insecticide for Growers at Risk
Bifenthrin, a pyrethroid used in battling such pests as spotted wing drosophila, is undergoing EPA scrutiny. Read More
Pest Control
August 21, 2016
Spotted Wing Drosophila: For Michigan, …
Why the pest can be so much more destructive for Eastern cherry growers might be due to what they’re not farming. Read More
Harvesting
August 16, 2016
Proper Stockpiling Can Maintain Almond Q…
As almond yields increase, growers may find themselves with more harvested crop than processors can handle. Proper stockpiling techniques can Read More
Insect Control
May 26, 2016
Temperature, Location Key To Predicting …
This year, leaffooted bugs are expected to be a significant problem in almonds and pistachios, but watching temperature and the Read More
Disease Control
May 19, 2016
Native Plants Reduce Need For Vineyard W…
Scientists in eastern Washington are finding drought-tolerant alternatives to roses at the end of vineyard rows that not only save Read More
Insect Control
May 16, 2016
Tips For Balancing Almond Mites And Pred…
Almond growers need to do a delicate dance to keep spider mite populations down, but not so far that beneficial Read More
Crop Protection
May 6, 2016
Scouting Tips For Growing Grape Pest Thr…
Grape growers should be on the lookout this fall for two pests that are popping up in vineyards along the Read More
Crop Protection
February 9, 2016
Biopesticides And IPM
Dr. Surendra Dara, Strawberry and Vegetable Crops Advisor and Affiliated IPM Advisor with University of California Cooperative Extension, has long Read More
Crop Protection
February 8, 2016
7 Steps To See If Biocontrols Pencil Out…
Have you considered adding biocontrols to your operation? If you have, there’s no doubt you’ve already weighed the potential costs, Read More
Berries
February 5, 2016
Moving Beyond Methyl Bromide With Biofun…
Editor’s note: University of California Farm Advisor Mark Bolda will present much more information on this topic at the Biocontrols Read More
Crop Protection
February 5, 2016
Register Now For Biocontrols Conference …
Space is limited, so register now to attend the first-ever Biocontrols USA 2016 Conference Field and Greenhouse Tour. Following the Read More
Pest Control
September 30, 2015
9 Things You Need To Know About Garden S…
The garden symphylan is a pest to watch for as it can sporadic in some fields and a serious problems in others. Read More
Farm Management
June 29, 2015
The ROI On An Organic Checkoff [Opinion]
Organic agriculture is more profitable for farmers than conventional agriculture, according to a recent study published in the Proceedings of Read More