Novel Chemical Applications for SWD Control
by Wei Yang, OSU Regional Berry Crops Extension Agent

Blueberry growers currently rely on various types of sprayers driven by a tractor to deliver insecticides for control of spotted wing drosophila (SWD). However, in mature fields close to harvest driving tractors between plants loaded with ripening berries can knock off fruit to the ground, resulting in yield loss.

Using helicopter applications can provide excellent contact knockdown of active adult populations of SWD in a blueberry canopy laden with ripening fruit. In our experiments products such as Mustang Max®, Lannate® LV and Success® provided excellent knockdown up to three days following treatment. But helicopter application is very expensive for growers with small acreages.

Stand-alone micro-sprinkler systems are used by some Oregon blueberry growers to cool ripening berries in hot weather conditions. These systems also have another use. Teaming up with Washington State University entomologist Dr. Lynell Tanigoshi, who is working without any funding from the Oregon blueberry industry, we have experimented using the stand-alone micro-sprinkler systems to deliver a few selected insecticides for SWD control.

We found that this new delivery method provided economical knockdown and residual control of SWD with excellent coverage of blueberry leaf surfaces and mixed maturing berries with Mustang Max®. Micro-sprinklers should give the grower flexible timing options for field-wide applications given SWD population levels, weather conditions such as wind and rain, harvesting schedules and opportunity to tank mix pesticides. 

The main challenge for this unique chemigation system now is to calibrate each stand-alone system to consistently deliver the recommended field rate of the pesticide on target with minimal wash-off and drift. Dr. Tanigoshi will continue to fine tune the micro-sprinklers system and develop guidelines of using this new method of SWD control in the coming season.

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