First Newsletter of 2011 Season

Monday, March 28, 2011

Welcome to my new strawberry blog!

This is our first enewsletter of the season. For this season, the newsletters will still be emailed to producers, but to ensure you get all the notices and information, please add your email to Feedburner on the right-side of the blog.

Blogs in 2011: Another season is upon us and I thought I would get with the times and try something new this year. Blogging appealed to me because it is not supposed to be time consuming but at the same time it is a timely way to get information to clients. With this goal in mind I’m going to try to get “timely” information to you guys as we go through the season. I will also convey anything useful I see or hear during my farm calls through the growing season (while maintaining grower confidentiality where appropriate). I hope it is useful and please give me your feedback on this new method of extension. The address for this blog is http://www.novascotiastrawberryblog.com/

Spring fertility: We are still a month away from uncovering our strawberries but this is a great time to do some planning. We had a pretty good winter as far as I can assess – we had plenty of snow cover and a mid-winter low of only -18.8 °C at the Kentville Research Station so I don’t expect much winter injury. If I am right then we will need to be careful to avoid excess applications of nitrogen this spring. Generally, I only like to recommend applying spring fertility if I think the plants are weak. If they look and behave strong you are just creating extra disease pressure by fertilizing when it is not necessary. This is particularly true in new plantings fruiting for the first time in 2011, whereas carry-over fields tend to be less vigorous and will benefit more from a modest application of a nitrogen based fertilizer about a week after uncovering. During this time cut some crowns and look at some roots to see if the plants look healthy and strong to refine your fertility decisions. For more information on “spring fertility” please review the following factsheet from AgraPoint’s website

Red stele management: Red stele pressure was very high in the spring of 2009 because it was such a cold wet spring. Last year was much better because it was warm and dry. It is too early to say what we are going to get this year but there is the potential for problems due to the above average snow accumulation last winter. If cold, wet soils persist up to and after uncovering everyone should be on look-out for red stele and be prepared to apply controls if necessary. Of course susceptible varieties are higher risk but even previously resistant varieties like Annapolis, Sable, and Mira have been showing red stele symptoms in recent years. If you see a weak stand and find red stele symptoms in roots of plants after uncovering consider 1-2 applications of Aliette fungicide. It is taken up through the leaves of the plant so should be applied at the labelled rate when plants are actively growing. Make a second application 30 days later if possible but remember that this fungicide has a 30 day pre-harvest interval so it can only be applied up to first bloom. For details on this please go to AgraPoint’s “Strawberry Insect and Disease Management Schedule”

Spotted Wing Drosophila: There is potentially a new pest in Nova Scotia this year. The Spotted Winged Drosophila (SWD) was discovered in California in 2008 and has rapidly moved across the Continent, discovered in B.C. in 2009 and Ontario and Quebec in 2010. It is similar to its close relative, the common fruit fly, in that it can rapidly increase its population to epidemic levels given available resources. It differs in that it prefers sound fruit to overripe fruit and will aggressively attack healthy fruit on the plant before it is harvested. Compromised fruit may appear normal at first but will degrade rapidly. Yield losses of up to 50% have been reported so this is a potentially catastrophic new pest. We are trying to be proactive in conducting some monitoring in 2011 and I encourage you to cooperate if contacted by Deb Moreau (from the Kentville Research Station) or members of her research team. We are also proactively pursuing emergency minor use registrations to deal with this pest should we encounter it at damaging levels in 2011. For more information on SWD please visit the excellent factsheet prepared by Pam Fisher et al with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) at http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/facts/pest-alert-swd.htm

Spring Clinics: It’s been a while since any strawberry workshops have been held so I thought it would be a good idea to schedule a few for this spring to review and update some of the important management topics such as spring weed control, fruit rot management, new pests, and new product registrations. There will also be a presentation on day-neutral strawberries that some of you may be interested in hearing. The workshops are scheduled for 1-4 p.m. on Friday April 8th at the Waterville Fire Hall, and 1-4 p.m. on Thursday April 14th in the Administration Building (room 214 upstairs) at the AgriTech Park in Truro. The agenda for the meeting can be found on AgraPoint’s calendar of events.

Until next time...

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