Evaluation of methods to control Phytonemus pallidus and Anthonomus rubi in organic strawberry production
Use of the predatory mite Neoseiulus cucumeris (Oudemans) (Acari, Phytoseiidae) and a fleece cover in combination with pyrethrum application showed potential for control of two important pests in organic production of strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa Duch.), although there were some unexpected interactions between pyrethrum and the release of N. cucumeris that need to be investigated further. Two cultivars, Honeoye and Cavendish, were treated with pyrethrum with or without fleece to control strawberry blossom weevils [Anthonomus rubi Herbst. (Col., Curculionidae)] and N. cucumeris was released to control strawberry mites [Phytonemus pallidus (Banks) (Acari, Tarsonemidae)]. Number of strawberry mites, number of flower buds damaged by the weevil, incidence of grey mould and powdery mildew, and fruit yield were measured in two consecutive fruiting seasons. In Honeoye, the fleece in combination with pyrethrum decreased the proportion of damaged buds by 11–23% and increased yield by 49–91 g per plant. When pyrethrum was used alone it did not influence the number of damaged buds or yield. This indicates that the combined treatment was more effective because of the fleece. In Cavendish, the fleece and pyrethrum treatments were not found to be effective. Almost no P. pallidus was found in Honeoye and the results were not analysable. In plots with Cavendish where N. cucumeris had been released, there were approximately 50% fewer P. pallidus from the end of August onwards in 2003. However, this response did not significantly influence the succeeding year's yield. The number of fruits infected with fungi was very low and no effects were observed for any of the treatments.