Reese Haley, the owner of Morning Bell Farms, has implemented an organic approach to better control bugs from invading his blueberry crops. The strategy involves making a wine from culled blueberries and sugar that sits in a container for seven to 14 days. When the wine is ready, Haley says it should be like gel.
The wine is then poured into red Solo cups. Holes are made on the sides of the cup. The bugs are attracted to the wine and enter through the holes. Once the bugs are in the cup, they cannot escape.
At first, cups are placed on the perimeter of the field. Later in the season, the bugs will start to make their way into the rows. When this happens, cups are moved into the production area near what is ripening. Haley says checking the amount of bugs in the cups each week determines whether the farm will need to spray for bugs or not.
Haley uses the wine to fend off the spotted wing drosophila, an invasive fly that attacks berries and looks like the common vinegar fly. The spotted wing drosophila is mostly attracted to ripe berries and wine.
This approach was first introduced at the University of Georgia. Since Morning Bell is certified organic, this process is one of the only ways to gauge when spraying is needed. The less the farm has to spray, the better. “If we can go two to three weeks at a time not spraying, then it helps our bottom line for sure,” Haley said.
Hear the full interview from the Southeast Regional Fruit and Vegetable Conference:
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