Posted 9/8/2013 8:17pm by Heidi Thunberg.
Sometimes, fortune smiles on our little forays away from vegetable production into the world of small fruit growing, as it did with our heavy-weight champion of a blueberry crop. And sometimes, another thing entirely is smiling on us, like the hungry, rapidly multiplying members of a new species of fruit fly which we just confirmed in our raspberries. It seems like about time we had the talk. You know, the one about Spotted Wing Drosophila.
A potentially very difficult fruit pest has recently arrived in New England after making its way through the country's major fruit producing regions. This is the UMass Extension page on the subject. The long and short of it is that several characteristics of this bug make it extremely hard to control: 1) Unlike all our endemic fruit fly species, the SWD are able to lay eggs in SOUND FRUIT, not just rotting or overripe fruit, 2) They can complete their entire life cycle and start a new generation in ABOUT 8 DAYS, and 3) An individual female can lay up to 300 EGGS.
This means if you are spraying insecticides, you have to spray every week, absolute bare minimum. For an organic farm mainly focused on vegetables and livestock, where we are limited to a few (very expensive) biologically derived insecticides, this is not a great option. We even just attended a workshop with folks from UMass to discuss strategies for controlling, and dealing with this new pest. While we develop farm specific and regional strategies, the UMass fruit specialist suggested people pick the plants thoroughly, refrigerate fruit immediately, use fruit as soon as possible,...be brave....and don't look too hard!
For now that is the best we can tell you. The fruit is ripening beatifully, but along with it is likely another generation of SWD. Raspberries will be open for those who wish to pick, and keeping them picked is a huge help in controlling this pest. We just graze out there, and haven't bothered bringing any fruit home...they taste great, and we haven't worried about the extra protein. In the mean time, we will evaluate exactly how much equipment, and labor we can devote to the control of this pest in the future. We thank you for your understanding, and continued support, and apologize to everyone who may have come home to find little visitors in their raspberry quarts.
(NOTE: There is the possibility that the flies could migrate into the cherry tomatoes and plum tomatoes, so we will encourage people to pick them hard and to make use of the WHOLE field! The plants are loaded so don't be afraid to go out to the other end of the field!)
Green Meadows Farm Crew
656 Asbury Street
S. Hamilton, MA 01982