Integrated pest management in blueberry
Integrated pest management (IPM) plays a vital role in blueberry crop protection, addressing the numerous pests and diseases that can impact the health and productivity of these plants. IPM focuses on using a combination of methods to manage pest populations, which includes pest monitoring, cultural practices, biological control and chemical control, as needed. By using non-chemical methods and reducing the use of pesticides, growers can limit their exposure to harmful chemicals and minimise the negative impact on the environment.
Various beneficial organisms can be used for the control of aphids, fruit flies, mealybugs and scales, spider mites, thrips, beetles and whitefly in blueberry crops. These beneficials include ladybirds, lacewings, predatory mites, parasitic wasps and predatory beetles. These natural enemies feed on pests, reducing their numbers and preventing them from causing significant damage to the crops.
Blueberry diseases such as Botrytis, Phytophthora and other fungal pathogens can cause serious harm. Beneficial antagonistic fungi which protect the plants against these diseases can be applied to the growing medium when the plants are being grown under permanent protection, where they will compete with the pathogenic fungi for space and nutrients and even kill them. At the same time, they strengthen the root system making the plant less vulnerable to infection.
Bumblebees are highly efficient pollinators of blueberry crops. They contribute significantly to the successful production of high-quality blueberries. Bumblebees also contribute to the sustainability of blueberry cultivation. By incorporating bumblebees into an IPM strategy, growers reduce the use of chemical pesticides and promote a more sustainable and eco-friendly approach to crop management.
By implementing IPM strategies, blueberry growers can mitigate the damage caused by pests and diseases, preserve the quality of their crops, and promote sustainable practices for long-term crop health.
Blueberry crops are susceptible to various pests that can cause significant damage if left uncontrolled.
Aphids are common pests that feed on the sap of blueberry plants, weakening their growth and potentially transmitting viral diseases. Important aphid species that affect blueberries are Cotton aphid (Aphis gossypii), Blueberry aphid (Ericaphis scammeli) and Green peach aphid or Tobacco aphid (Myzus persicae).
Fruit flies pose a threat to ripe blueberries, puncturing the fruit and causing spoilage. The Mediterranean fruit fly (Ceratitis capitata) and Spotted Wing Drosophila (Drosophila suzukii) are common fruit fly pests in blueberry.
Mealybugs, with their piercing-sucking mouthparts, can distort and stunt plant growth, while producing honeydew that attracts ants and promotes the growth of sooty mould. The Citrus mealybug (Planococcus citri) is a common pest in blueberry.
Pest beetles, such as the Black vine weevil (Otiorhynchus sulcatus) can cause damage by feeding on blueberry roots. The Common cockchafer (Melolontha melolontha), of which the larvae are called white grubs, also feeds on the roots of blueberry plants.
Spider mites are tiny arachnids that suck sap from leaves, causing yellowing, webbing and potential defoliation. The Two-spotted spider mite (Tetranychus urticae) is a harmful pest in blueberry crops.
Thrips, another sap-feeding insect, can deform blueberry fruits and transmit viruses. Important species in blueberry include the Western flower thrips (Frankliniella occidentalis) and Chilli thrips (Scirtothrips dorsalis).
Whiteflies can infest blueberry plants, sucking sap and causing leaf yellowing and sooty mould growth. Common whitefly species that occur in blueberry are Tobacco whitefly (Bemisia tabaci) and Greenhouse whitefly (Trialeurodes vaporariorum).
Managing these pests is crucial for preserving the health and productivity of blueberry crops.
Biological pest control in blueberry
Biological pest control methods offer an effective and sustainable approach to managing pests in blueberry crops. By introducing natural enemies into blueberry fields, growers can promote biological control, minimise the need for chemical pesticides, and maintain a healthier balance in the ecosystem. This approach not only protects blueberry crops from pest damage but also preserves beneficial insects and promotes long-term sustainability.
Aphids can be controlled with parasitic wasps such as Aphidius colemani (Aphipar), Aphidius ervi (Ervipar) and Aphiscout, a combination of different aphid parasitoids (Aphidius colemani, Aphidius ervi, Aphelinus abdominalis, Praon volucre, Ephedrus cerasicola). These parasitoids lay their eggs inside aphids, ultimately causing their death. The different species attack different species of aphids.
Predators like the gall midge Aphidoletes aphidimyza (Aphidend) and such as Adalia bipunctata (Aphidalia), can also contribute to the control of aphids. These ladybirds and their larvae are voracious predators of aphids, feeding on them and helping to reduce their populations.
Fruit fly control
Drososan for Spotted Wing Drosophila and Moskisan for Mediterranean fruit fly), which are combined with a lure (Fruit Fly Attractant for Spotted Wing Drosophila, and a species-specific pheromone (Pherodis) for Mediterranean fruit fly) that attract the fruit flies to the traps, where they get caught and die.can be trapped in insect traps (
The predatory beetle Cryptolaemus montrouzieri (Cryptobug, Cryptobug-L), is a natural predator of mealybugs. Adults and larvae voraciously feed on all instars of mealybugs, significantly reducing their populations. Lacewings, such as Chrysoperla carnea (Chrysopa, Chrysopa-E), also contribute to mealybug control. Their larvae actively feed on mealybugs.
Beneficial nematodes such as Steinernema feltiae (Capirel, Entonem), Steinernema carpocapsae (Casea) and Heterorhabditis bacteriophora (Larvanem) are natural enemies of beetles, including weevils. When applied to the soil, the nematodes actively seek out beetle larvae and infect them with bacteria, causing their demise. This method targets the underground larvae of beetles, preventing them from developing into damaging adults.
Spider mite control
Spidex, Spidex Vital, Spidex Vital Plus, Spidex Boost) and Neoseiulus californicus (Spical, Spical Ulti-Mite, Spical-Plus) are key players in spider mite control. These are specialised predators that prey on spider mites, providing effective biological control. Additionally, gall midges, such as Feltiella acarisuga (Spidend), are used for spider mite management. The larvae of gall midges feed on spider mites, significantly reducing their numbers.such as Phytoseiulus persimilis (
Predatory mites, such as Amblyseius swirskii (Swirski-Mite, Swirski Ulti-Mite) and Amblydromalus limonicus (Limonica), play a significant role in suppressing thrips populations. They actively prey on thrips, helping to reduce their numbers. Additionally, , such as Orius laevigatus (Thripor-L) and Orius insidiosus (Thripor-I), contribute to thrips management by feeding on both adult thrips and their larvae. Lastly, entomopathogenic fungi, such as Lecanicillium muscarium Ve6 (Mycotal) can be used as biocontrol agent to infect and kill thrips.
Predatory mites, such as Amblyseius swirskii (Swirski-Mite, Swirski-Mite LD, Swirski-Mite Plus, Swirski Ulti-Mite) and Amblydromalus limonicus (Limonica) actively feed on whitefly eggs and nymphs, providing effective biological control. Entomopathogenic fungi, such as Lecanicillium muscarium Ve6 (Mycotal), are utilized as biocontrol agents to infect and kill whiteflies. These fungi are applied to the foliage, where they penetrate the whitefly's body and cause mortality.
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Pest monitoring in blueberry
Pest monitoring is a crucial component of effective pest management in blueberry crops. Regular monitoring helps growers detect and assess pest populations in their fields, enabling timely and targeted intervention when necessary. Monitoring methods commonly employed in blueberry crops include visual inspections, trapping systems and pheromone traps. Visual inspections involve closely observing plants for signs of pest activity, such as leaf damage, or the presence of insects. Trapping systems, such as sticky traps (Horiver, Rollertrap) and insect traps are used to capture and monitor flying pests like fruit flies or thrips. Pheromone traps (Pherodis) utilise synthetic compounds that mimic the scent of female insects to attract and trap male insects, aiding in the detection and monitoring of specific pest species. By consistently monitoring pest populations, growers can make informed decisions about implementing appropriate pest control measures, optimising the use of resources, and minimising the potential for crop damage.
Blueberry crops can be susceptible to various fungal and bacterial diseases, including powdery mildew, leaf spot and anthracnose. These fungal infections can cause defoliation, fruit rot and reduced plant vigour.
Disease control in blueberry
Pollination of blueberry crops
Bumblebees play a vital role in the natural pollination of blueberry crops, ensuring optimal fruit set and yield. When bumblebees visit blueberry flowers to collect nectar and pollen, they inadvertently transfer pollen between the male and female flower parts, enabling fertilisation and fruit development. This efficient pollination process leads to larger, more uniform berries.
Bumblebees for blueberry pollination
Bumblebees are excellent pollinators for blueberry crops due to several key characteristics. Their large size allows them to collect and transfer pollen effectively from the anthers to the stigma of blueberry flowers. This efficient pollen transfer increases the chances of successful fertilisation and fruit set.
Bumblebees possess a unique ability known as "buzz pollination". They can vibrate their flight muscles at a high frequency, causing the pollen to be released from the blueberry flowers' anthers. This mechanism is particularly important for blueberries, as their pollen is firmly attached and requires this buzzing action in order to be released.
Additionally, bumblebees are active pollinators, capable of foraging in cooler temperatures and under cloudy conditions when other bees may be less active. This flexibility allows them to provide consistent pollination services throughout the blueberry flowering period, contributing to optimal fruit development.
Furthermore, bumblebees exhibit a certain level of flower constancy, meaning they tend to focus on one species of flower at a time before moving to the next. This behaviour increases the likelihood of cross-pollination between different blueberry plants, promoting genetic diversity and potentially improving fruit quality.
Overall, the combination of their size, buzz pollination ability, activity in cooler conditions, and flower constancy, makes bumblebees highly effective pollinators of blueberry crops. Their presence and activity in blueberry fields significantly contribute to maximising fruit set, yield and overall crop productivity.