This Invitation Just Got More OFFICIAL!

 

Below is the final save the date postcard that was mailed out to farmers throughout the Pacific Northwest. It’s hard to get one sent to everyone, so here’s a copy, just in case you missed it!
2015 Blueberry Workshop 1Up_Page_12015 Blueberry Workshop 1Up_Page_2The back reads:

Blueberry Workshop

$25 (includes lunch)

Resister at www.pesticide.org or contact Sarah (541-344-5044 ext 19), agworkshops@pesticide.org

Agenda:

Mummy Berry

Cultural Controls: Jade Florence, OSU and Dalphy Harteveld, WSU

Commercial Products for Organic Production: Dr. Jay Pscheidt, OSU

Organic Grower Perspective: Jim Meyer, Cascadian Farms

Other Diseases of Blueberry

Jay Pscheidt and Dalphy Harteveld

Weed Management and Mulching

Jade Florence

Spotted Wing Drosophila

Beverly Gerdeman, WSU

New! Whole-Farm Revenue Insurance

Learn about expanded coverage for specialty crop, organic, and diversified farms. All crops and livestock are allowed under one policy.

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New Resources for Growers!

In early 2015, a blueberry workshop will be held for Washington growers!

In early 2015, a blueberry workshop will be held for Washington growers!

The planning is underway for the blueberry workshop for Washington blueberry growers. The workshop is geared toward organic production, but growers from all production systems are welcome! Most of the techniques covered are applicable to any system- organic, conventional, no-spray, biodynamic, you name it! So far on the itinerary, we have:

  • A first-hand report of managing mummy berry on a large-scale organic farm
  • A talk on mummy berry biology, environmental factors, and controls
  • A talk on weed management on farms
  • A discussion of spotted wing drosophila
  • A discussion of other blueberry diseases including: Botrytis, Pseudomonas syringae, and silver leaf

For the discussions, grower questions will drive the direction of the conversation. So if you have any questions on diseases of concern, management, or specific symptoms you’ve noticed on your crop, come prepared to ask away!

In other news…

New Publication Coming!

New Publication Coming in 2015!

I’m currently working on a publication intended for small-scale organic blueberry growers in the Pacific Northwest, although the included control tactics can be applied to all blueberry production systems. It briefly describes the mummy berry disease cycle and organic methods available for mummy berry control organized by the season in which you would implement them!

This will be especially helpful to any growers who have been unable to make it to our workshops or growers who attended, but would like to have a copy of the content with more detail and presented in an easily-accessible format.

It will include plenty of color photographs, diagrams, and tables to help you create a disease management regime that works for you! I’m hoping to have it finished and available online by early 2015!! And possibly, a Spanish version may be made available later in 2015. I’ll keep you posted!

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Mummy Berry Workshop Will Be Held in Washington!!

Jade Presentation Workshop

Great news! I’m currently working to organize and hold an organic-focused blueberry/mummy berry workshop in Washington in conjunction with NCAP (the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides). Growers from Washington have previously traveled to Oregon for our educational events in 2014 and requested that we offer a workshop in Washington, so we are planning for one in Mount Vernon in February.
We’re still in the planning stages, but in order to make this workshop as valuable as possible for growers in the Pacific Northwest, I’d like to get YOUR feedback on a couple of questions:
1) Are there any meetings for berry growers in the spring that we should be sure to avoid? 
We know the Blueberry Conference in Portland is January 27, although we don’t know that they focus much on organic methods.
Organicology is Feb 5-7 in Portland. Do you know if many of the WA blueberry growers attend?
2) Could you suggest how we should focus our advertising to reach blueberry growers interested in alternatives to pesticides? Are there any organizations that I should be sure to reach with information about this workshop? Any groups with email lists or mailed newsletters that blueberry growers are plugged into? Where do you hear about events? 
Please respond in the comments section! More information regarding the workshop and current field experiments will be posted soon!

 

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Farm Tour Update!

2014 Field Day

During the farm tour, the following was discussed:

  • Ken Berg’s method of mummy berry management
  • My overview of mummy berry and cultural control methods
  • Dr. Jay Pscheidt’s evaluation of commercial products
  • Potential funding opportunities to assist with disease management via micro-loans through the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA)
  • The organic initiative through the Oregon Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS)

2014 Field Day

Ken Berg’s method of mummy berry management included the following:

  1. In late summer, mummies fall onto open ground underneath the blueberry bushes. Blueberry bushes are on flat ground (vs. mounds). 
  2. In late winter, black visqueen is laid down under bushes and on top of overwintering mummies. Two sheets of visqueen are used per row, one on either side of the blueberry bushes (for example: one sheet laying on the east-facing side of the blueberry row, running north to south. and the other sheet laying on the west-facing side, also running north to south).
  3. The visqueen is held in place with Douglas fir sawdust which is appliedaround the outer edges of the visqueen to hold it down. To hold down the two sheets of visqueen that meet along the crown of the blueberry bush, the visqueen is pulled together, overlapping, and Douglas fir sawdust is applied on top of it. The weight of the Douglas fir sawdust keeps the visqueen in place.
  4. In early spring when apothecia would be produced, the visqueen covers them and theoretically prevents ascospores from escaping.2014 Field Day

Ken Berg claims that this technique has reduced his mummy berry incidence and is cost effective. The visqueen does not need to be replaced every year and costs under $500 for the whole field. Berg’s Certified Organic Blueberries is primarily a U-pick operation, producing blueberries on one acre.

Another option:

A farm tour attendee discussed his more drastic management technique. This grower has a severe case of mummy berry and pruned back all canes. He skipped a year of harvest, but this year his crop looks incredibly productive and he says there is no sign of mummy berry. However, since the blueberries have only reached the green fruit stage, nothing final can be said about the technique.

This management idea spurred an interesting question amongst the growers- Do mummies only survive for one year? If so, this technique should be viable. I am currently designing an experiment to test just that and should have results next field season!

Organic fungicide highlights:

  • Actinovate AG, Regalia, and Serenade Optimum all showed a significantly different % primary infection control when compared to the non-treated bushes.
  • Regalia was associated with minor phytotoxicity (some necrosis on blooms and rusetting on fruit)
  • Serenade Optimum (7 day intervals) also showed significantly different secondary infection (mummy berry) control when compared to non-treated bushes.

This concludes the list of highlights from the spring farm tour. If you’d like additional information about the microloans or organic initiative, please leave a comment and I’ll add additional information. If you have any ideas for mummy berry control that you’d like to see tested, please tell us about it!

Thank you to all of the farm tour attendees, your input was invaluable! 

Our next mummy berry management outreach event will take place in Washington!

 

Posted in Workshops and Field Days | 1 Comment

Resource for Mummy Berry and Cultivar Susceptibility

I often get questions from growers regarding which cultivars are most resistant to mummy berry disease and confirming cultivars that appear to be susceptible in the field. I’ve found a great resource provided by researchers at Michigan State University. It includes information such as:

  • Mummy Berry Basics
  • Symptoms
  • Disease Cycle
  • Color Photographs
  • Management
  • Cultivar Susceptibility
  • Common Fungicide Active Ingredients and Efficacy

 

Please click the link below. Enjoy!

MUMMY BERRY FACT SHEET

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Managing Mummy Berry Disease in Blueberries Farm Tour

Mummy-Berry-Farm-Tour

Managing Mummy Berry Disease in Blueberries Farm Tour
Thursday, June 5, 2014
2 – 4:30 pm
Alvadore, OR
$5

RSVP required by Tuesday, June 3
with Jen Miller at jmiller@pesticide.org or 208-850-6504

This farm tour is a follow-up field component to our February workshop.

Please join us for the afternoon to learn about managing for mummy berry disease from certified organic blueberry farmer Ken Berg, Oregon State University researcher Jay Pscheidt and graduate student Jade Florence.

Jay Pscheidt and Jade Florence are currently working with NCAP and collaborating growers on a project to improve mulching practices for managing mummy berry.

Berg sawdust pict copy 2

About the farm:
Ken Berg of Berg’s Certified Organic Blueberries produces blueberries on one acre. The farm has been producing organic blueberries since 1991.

Ken has planted eight cultivars, including Blueray, Chandler, Collins, Darrow, Draper, Liberty,Patriot, and Spartan. The farm is primarily a u-pick operation.

Mummy berry drives many of the management practices on the farm, after major losses occurred in 2010. Ken instituted intensive mulching, involving laying down visqueen and covering with sawdust mulch, as well as other methods to significantly reduce his losses from mummy berry.

The tour will also include information on conservation funding for pest management through NRCS, as well as a new microloan program through USDA Farm Service Agency.

This is an equal opportunity event.
This workshop is based upon work supported by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under number 69-0436-2-113.

Posted in Workshops and Field Days | 2 Comments

Apothecia still sporulating!

Primary inoculum production is still in full swing at the Botany and Plant Pathology Field Lab in Corvallis, Oregon. However, no apothecia have been found further southeast around the Eugene/Springfield/McKenzie River area.

This is a prime time to mulch your fields if you haven’t done so already! As data comes in at the BPP Field Lab, it’s looking like mulching is EXTREMELY beneficial for prohibiting apothecia from reaching the soil surface and disseminating ascospores. Below are some images from the mulching field study!

Unmulched Mummies

Pots containing sclerotia that were not mulched. Notice high numbers of apothecia.

Far fewer apothecia coming up through sawdust layer. Statistical analyses will be conducted and made available to the public.

Far fewer apothecia coming up through sawdust layer. Statistical analyses will be conducted and made available to the public.

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3.7.14 First Apothecia Found in Corvallis!

apocirc

On Friday, March 7, 2014 the first apothecium of the spring Mummy Berry disease cycle was found in Corvallis, Oregon within the Willamette Valley. More apothecia will expand to release spores within the next few days, so keep an eye out!

Make sure your IPM regime is underway!

I was recently interviewed for the Inspiration Dissemination radio show on KBVR Corvallis. Anyone interested in my path to studying Plant Pathology and advice for aspiring young plant pathologists, I encourage you to check it out!

Inspiration Dissemination-KBVR Corvallis

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Moving into March! Preparing for Mummy Berry

In-Field Mummy Status

February is almost over, and in the field, about 40% of sclerotia assessed at the Botany & Plant Pathology Field Lab have germinated. That means with the right environmental conditions they’ll begin to infect the fields!

With the right environmental conditions, this mummy will produce an apothecium (fungal fruiting body, like a mushroom).

With the right environmental conditions, this mummy will produce an apothecium (fungal fruiting body, like a mushroom).

The best weather conditions for mushroom production include an average daily temperature of  ~45 Fahrenheit or higher, along with adequate rainfall. When this begins to happen in March, it’s a good idea to scout to find potential problem areas in your field. This may help you implement or tailor your IPM program.

For example, if you’ve already applied mulch in the fall, but choose to scout during March, you may find an area where the mulch has rinsed away from the winter rains. In this case, it may be beneficial to apply more mulch immediately in to cover apothecia and prevent spores from infecting the orchard.

We’re still collecting data regarding the timing of mulches and will report further after this field season. However, there has been suggestive evidence to show that mulching over these problem areas, as in the above example, can stop apothecia from growing through the mulch and reaching the soil surface. This is especially important for organic farmers, who need to utilize as many different tactics as possible to decrease disease incidence both for harvest this year, and decreasing sclerotia (or mummies) in the field the following fall and winter.

I’ve provided this Mummy Berry Scouting Video for anyone interested in learning to scout and wants an introduction to Mummy Berry.

Recent letter from a reader!

Weed Mat with Zipper SystemI’m working [on a] farm with perennial crops. I find your blog and research very interesting!

We have a ½ acre of highbush blueberries in their 7th year of production. They are mulched with Douglas Fir sawdust covered with landscape fabric. I was wondering if you have recommendations on Mummy Berry control for our system… Do you think that leaving the landscaped fabric open during the berry drop, then restapling it over top of fallen berries would prevent any mummy berries from discharging ascospores in the spring? This might be less labour intensive than painstakingly removing all fallen berries by hand. Possibly. Given the ordeal of unstapling and restapling our plastic, hard to say. Anyways, was curious if you had any thoughts on this!

Disclaimer

Response:  I’m glad you came across my blog!

I would not suggest pulling back the weed mat and allowing mummies to roll underneath, as I’ve seen this done on blueberry farms and the mummies ended up germinating under the weed mat, elongating until they reach a light gap, at which point they produce apothecia and sporulate.

Do you have raised beds or flat ground?

If you’re on flat ground, I might suggest simply sweeping up mummies
from the weed mat, collecting them, and disposing of them (you can
bury them in another area). If you’re on a raised bed, this might be
more difficult, as mummies tend to roll into the middle aisle. If this
is the case, sweeping them from the weed mat and raking the aisle may
be a good option (again, you’ll want to collect the mummies and
dispose of them). Also, keeping the grass cut and plant debris removed
from the middle aisle can help dry out any mummies that are left there.

Another option is to harvest the mummies. This can be time consuming,
but is very effective. Since my research doesn’t cover weed mat
operations at the present moment, I don’t have much information to
give you about that system. Hope this helped!

Here’s another resource that might come in handy for your other crops
too:

http://pnwhandbooks.org/plantdisease/blueberry-vaccinium-corymbosum-mummy-berry

Posted in Integrated Pest Management, Research Information | 2 Comments

Successful Winter Workshop!

Thank you to everyone who attended the 2014 Organic Blueberry Workshop! It was a great success and according to the survey responses, attendees got some new ideas for managing Mummy Berry and Spotted Wing Drosophila along with new information about mulching practices.

67% of workshop attendees said that they will be changing their management of blueberry diseases based on what they learned.

And additional 15% of attendees said that they may be incorporating the new information into their management strategies after having more time to think it over.

Here’s a recap of what was covered:

Effects of Various Management Techniques

Optimum soil pH for blueberry is 4.5-5.5

Why Mulch

Douglas fir sawdust is generally recommended because it’s readily available and it has a pH of about 4.5 (good for blueberries). 73% of attendees already use Douglas Fir sawdust on their organic blueberry operations.

Seeds of weedy plants don’t germinate readily in sawdust. However, seeds of weedy plants do germinate readily in compost, because it is nutrient rich and holds moisture better.

Cultivar differences make it difficult to make any management generalizations. To understand cultivar responses, comparing yield on rows of treated and untreated blueberries may give farmers personalized information needed to create an effective management regime.

Raised beds tend to increase yield.

Feather meal tends to be best fertilizer for weed mat weed management operations.

Yard debris compost has a high pH (7 to 8). It’s best to avoid using a lot of compost when mulching blueberries. Also avoid manures or horse bedding for the same reason. Managing soil pH should be your first concern, since yield is similar whether weeds are managed with compost + sawdust, sawdust alone, or a weed mat.

Weed mat or landscape fabric controls weeds well, but must have a drip irrigation line under the weed mat or the plants may not get watered well enough. It’s also best to put some organic matter under the weed mat (ex: bark or sawdust), but no more than 2″ deep.

If weed management technique is sawdust alone:  Do not put on more than 3 inches at once (plant roots need oxygen) and renew mulch every few years to maintain the 3 inch depth. 87.5% of workshop attendees mulch 1-4 inches every year.

SWD

It takes 8-14 days for Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD) to transition from an egg to an adult.

Operations with a large variety of fruit production (i.e. raspberries, blueberries, apples, pears) may have a harder time controlling SWD due to increased habitat.

SWD likes high humidity areas in the canopy! Increased air flow can help control SWD. Pruning is important!

Pruning

Blueberry bushes can live for > 70 years!

Blueberry bushes need 6-7 years to reach full production.

8ft or shorter is a good height for blueberry bushes.

Pruning benefits:IMG_0824

1. Vigor

2. Increased berry size

3. Disease/insect management

4. Fruit quality

5. Appropriate growth habit for harvesting

 

There was lots of information presented at the Organic Blueberry Workshop. If there is any additional information you’d like to know about or have recapped, leave a message in the comments section!

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