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Beating back the bug, for now

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Articles - August 2010
Thursday, July 22, 2010


The drosophila is worrisome because it attacks ripe, healthy fruit. Fruits attacked include apple, blueberry, cane berry, cherry, grape, peach, persimmon, plum and strawberry.

A wet and cold growing season was bad news for Oregon’s fruit crops, except in the battle against a destructive fruit pest. Last year, one-fourth of the organic and non-commerical growers of blueberries, raspberries and peaches reported loses due to the spotted wing drosophila. There was minimal damage to the commerical berry industry. This Asian fruit fly, which uniquely attacks fruit on the tree, was dealt a blow this April when the U.S. Department of Agriculture gave Oregon a $2.5 million grant and the state chipped in $225,000 in emergency funds. The money primarily funded Oregon State University researchers and some farmers to trap and monitor the nasty larvae. Then farmers crossed their fingers as crops began to ripen.

So far, there’s been “no conventional crop damage this year,” says OSU researcher Amy Dreves.

The cool spring also helped control the pest population. Wasco County, the location of the biggest 2009 outbreak, has had no sightings this year. Only one female drosophila was found in Hood River County.

Farms are controlling the pest, but backyard trees pose a threat. These trees are rarely sprayed and some larvae have been spotted.

“I am moderately optimistic. This is not an insurmountable problem,” says Dan Hilburn, Oregon Department of Agriculture plant division administrator.

Fly damage this season is low, but researchers and farmers are still worried as the days get warmer and drosophila traps get fuller.



Tom Peerbolt
0 #1 Wrong facts on 2009 crop losses included in this articleTom Peerbolt 2010-07-26 11:52:55
"Last year, one-fourth of Oregon’s blueberries, raspberries and peaches were destroyed by the Spotted Wing Drosophila. Some Willamette Valley farmers reported a 30% loss in revenue."

I'm a crop consultant involved in the coordinated scouting/inform ation dissemination program on SWD. The above statement is just plain not true. Some worse case estimates of potential damage this season were in the 20% range but losses last year were actually minimal to the commercial berry crops except for some late season blueberry fields.
One fairly small grower reported up to a 30% loss in his peach crop but that was the only place I know of that this figure could have come from. This is a very serious potential pest and I don't mean to minimize the potential but, please, don't throw around crop loss figures that have no basis. It causes damage to credibility, and can bounce around and be misused/quoted by other sources. Check with your own sources--Amy Dreves and Dan Hilburn would never throw out those figures because they're wrong. Please correct them.
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Robin Doussard, OB Editor
0 #2 Crop losesRobin Doussard, OB Editor 2010-07-27 21:43:45
More detail on our crop loss reporting: Amy Dreves, OSU researcher, says that fruit damage ranged from 20% to 80% of farmer’s total blueberry, raspberry, and peach crop last year, but that the damage was confined to the organic and non-commercial areas. She said that damage in the commercial berry industry was minimal. Helmuth Rogg, supervisor of the state’s pest management division, says 25% is a good average for the damage done last year. Rogg says he knows some Willamette Valley farmers lost 30% of their revenue because of the bug. For example, almost all of Stuart Olson’s peaches on his farm in Salem were destroyed. And although the bug’s damage has been kept to a minimum, this year’s revenue damages from the pest will also be felt. “Many farmers spent lots of money preventing the pest this season,” says Rogg.
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