Integrating Cover Crops into Blueberry Production for Sustainable Japanese Beetle Control

2003 Annual Report for GNC02-011

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2002: $10,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2004
Matching Federal Funds: $175,324.00
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $10,000.00
Region: North Central
State: Michigan
Graduate Student:
Faculty Advisor:

Integrating Cover Crops into Blueberry Production for Sustainable Japanese Beetle Control


A comparison of different ground covers in blueberry fields determined that row middle covers influence Japanese beetle adult and larval abundance. Buckwheat was more attractive to adults, but significantly fewer larvae were found in these plots compared to the other treatments. Clover and ryegrass were more suitable hosts for first instars than bare ground or buckwheat. This finding was supported by data from experiments that measured larval abundance in naturally infested plots. Rotovation timing did not influence larval populations in 2002, but results from 2003 showed that both spring and fall rotovation significantly reduced grub abundance in the row middles.

Objectives/Performance Targets

  1. Test the impact of acid-tolerant cover crops on Japanese beetle establishment in blueberries.

    Develop a combined system for rotovation and groundcover management to reduce Japanese beetle abundance in row middles and on the headlands of blueberry fields.

    Demonstrate sustainable approaches of Japanese beetle suppression to the blueberry industry.


  • We have been successful in establishing acid tolerant cover crops in a research station blueberry field.

    Cover crops have been shown to have an effect on Japanese beetle abundance, both in the adult and larval stages.

    Rotovation is a non-chemical approach to reducing Japanese beetle larval populations in blueberry row middles.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

The results of this study have been presented to growers and extension agents at numerous meetings during 2002 and 2003. So far, blueberry growers have shown great interest in using cover crops for Japanese beetle management and the other benefits of these plants. The advantages and disadvantages of the cover crops we tested have been communicated, not only from a pest control perspective, but also from a field management point of view. In the future we plan to test additional acid-tolerant cover crops in blueberries, and the plots for these have already been established at a research farm in Michigan. We also plant to continue to provide information from this study to the blueberry industry.


Rufus Isaacs
Major Professor
Michigan State University
202 CIPS
East Lansing, MI 48824
Office Phone: 5173556619