The title of our proposal is Advancing Sustainable Management Techniques for Spotted-Wing Drosophila in Strawberries in Minnesota. Spotted-wing drosophila (Drosophila suzukii, SWD) is an invasive fly that lays eggs in small fruit as it ripens. Management of SWD is largely based on repeat applications of broad-spectrum insecticides, which may have deleterious ecological impacts on non-target species, soil, and water quality, and contribute to insecticide resistance. Currently there is little understanding of the management or economic impact of SWD on day-neutral (DN) strawberries, a horticultural crop with high statewide economic value. Although there has been an increase in research on SWD management, little research has focused on strawberry specifically, despite high consumer demand for this and other fruits. Therefore, the objectives of this research and outreach project are: 1) test cultural and behavioral-based management strategies for SWD control and cost effectiveness; 2) facilitate strawberry demonstrations and learning opportunities for growers alongside the Hmong American Farmers Association (HAFA); 3) develop case studies with individual farmers to share information about strawberry production, pest control and profitability. SWD management strategies will include techniques that have previously shown promise in our research on raspberries but have not been tested in strawberries and need additional field validation. These include increasing harvest and field sanitation, use of botanical-based repellents, and a weekly rotation of OMRI microbial-based pesticides. We anticipate that efficacy across treatments will vary, as will labor and input costs; therefore we will also apply a cost-benefit analysis to our work. This proposal has been developed in partnership with HAFA, who have growers interested in trialing DN strawberries. This also allows us to leverage a pre-existing grant HAFA recently received to initiate a new grower training program with DN strawberries. This research project will enhance the impact of this work as well as complement the training by including a focus on integrated pest management. Overall, this project will provide data-validated management recommendations for farmers with the aim of reducing broad-spectrum insecticide use and improving profitability for the small fruit industry in Minnesota.
Project objectives from proposal:
Learning outcomes include an increased understanding of the efficacy of cultural control practices to reduce SWD infestation and damage and to explore the economic feasibility of various management strategies for DN strawberries. This knowledge will allow us to make recommendations to growers with the overall goal of reducing insecticide applications and improving profitability. Through our engagement with HAFA, new growers will learn about best management practices including integrated pest management for DN strawberries. Overall, our goal is to increase sustainable local production and season-wide availability of strawberries and increase farm revenue for this high-value crop.