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Northeastern SWD working group asking for input on pest

The Northeast IPM Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD) Working Group, headed up by Greg Loeb at Cornell University, is gathering information on the level of crop damage that has occurred on grower farms in the Northeastern U.S. this year.

Unlike most fruit fly species that only attack overripe and rotten fruit, SWDs can lay eggs in ripening soft-skinned fruit such as raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries, infesting them before harvest.

An Asian native, SWDs were first detected in North America in California in 2008, and made their way to the Northeast in the 2011 growing season. In 2012, they were back earlier in the season and appear to have caused widespread damage, especially in late-season blueberry varieties, fall raspberries, and day-neutral strawberries. Extension educators and researchers receive questions and reports of SWD damage daily.

To better understand the scope and economic impact of this new pest to berry growers in the Northeast, the group is asking growers to complete a brief online survey. This information will be invaluable in defining the problem and informing policymakers and funders of the best way to support research and Extension efforts to battle SWD.

The survey is anonymous and information about specific farms will not be released to the public. (The only identification information they ask is the county where you observed damage.)

Because the results of the survey will be shared at an upcoming strategy meeting, they ask that the survey be completed by Friday, October 19, 2012.

To take the survey now, go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/3FH6X3Q.

For more about SWD from Cornell University, go to http://www.fruit.cornell.edu/berry/pestalerts/drosophilapestalert.html.

By Brian Sparks, editor of American Fruit Grower

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