Blueberry Pest Management Field Day tackles integrated approach to gall midge and spotted wing drosophila

By Cristina deRevere, University of Georgia

With spring approaching, blueberry farmers focus on maximizing their 2018 yields, which means finding new ways to deal with pests like gall midge and spotted wing drosophila.

To help these growers stay on top of potential pest problems, University of Georgia integrated pest management (IPM) researchers hosted a spring field day in Alma, Georgia, on Feb 21. Over 70 regional farmers from several southwestern Georgia counties, such as Bacon, Clinch, Appling and Pierce, attended the half-day event.

Attendees ranged from experienced growers to new farmers.

“We’ve only been in business for five years, and I feel like I have to take advantage of any opportunity to learn,” said Elizabeth McQuaig McIntyre, a farm manager in Abbeville, Georgia.

The field day included presentations about pest risks and management strategies by UGA IPM coordinator Ash Sial and his blueberry research team. Following the presentations, attendees rotated through three stations: a sponsored lecture by AirScout, a pest identification station and a sprayer calibration demonstration.

UGA entomology professor Glen Rains demonstrated sprayer calibration on various types of equipment.

“Properly calibrated, maintained and adjusted sprayers are important to efficient pest management,” said Rains. “Calibration can be overwhelming if you are a novice or even a seasoned veteran. These field days equip farmers with the knowledge to better care for their crops.”

The pest identification station included a microscopic viewing of pest specimens and damage, and management strategies by Sial and his team. Andy Wilkes, a novice blueberry farmer, found this station particularly beneficial.

“All the information is extremely helpful, but there is something to be said about walking in the fields, learning what and how to identify, and seeing everything that is against us,” said Wilkes. “Every field day event we attend, we learn something new.”

All attendees received Pesticide Applicator license credits.

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