Thursday, September 5, 2013

Welcome to Week #14, by Angela

Hello, Red Hill Farm members.  This is a Full Share and Bi-Weekly Friday Share Pickup week.
Harvesting beans, Tacuinum Santitatis, Paris, 15th c.
Brendan will be in the share room to greet and assist you this week. Please ask if you need help finding anything. U-Pick continues to boom; make sure you save yourself oodles of time to harvest all the goodies, including green beans again! (Please return the green quart containers to the share room & transfer your picked items to a bag or your own containers--this way we can share and reuse the quart containers with everyone.)

Our tractor is still out of service. The starter was successfully replaced only to discover that the water pump & fan belt need additional attention before the tractor is operable. With much gratitude to our merciful and generous neighbor, we will be borrowing Hillside Farm's tractor this coming Thursday to turn the soil and, God willing, finally transplant our fall crops.

I also wanted to fill you in on the state of our berries (both blackberries and raspberries). First, if you have noticed any small white worms (most obvious when the berries are placed in a clear container), I believe they are the larvae of the spotted-wing Drosophila (much like a fruit fly). Below are two sources of further information about this pest, including information about how to improve the quality of your U-picked fruit at home.

Organically, the only method strongly endorsed for treating the Drosophilae is the use of OMRI-approved insecticides containing spinosad. According to Jack DeAngelis, the OSU Extension Entomologist, the active ingredients in spinosad are complex organic compounds made by soil microbes. Spinosad is a broad-spectrum pesticide but is only active if ingested or contacted while in liquid form; thus it has little residual effect on most beneficial species. Dow no longer has this product available (under the name "Entrust Naturalyte") and is by most accounts less effective after the raspberries have bloomed. We will not be using any insecticides in the berries this season.

I encourage you to harvest under-ripe fruit and help us knock off the overripe fruit to reduce populations within the canes.

The second raspberry note is that the two rows closest to the barn have rust. This is a fungus that occurs with humid, damp conditions (such as this entire season). We've been removing and aerating the canes to prevent further infestation. Berries that may be affected will show an orange spore spot. They are fine to eat, but their storage life is very short.

Hopefully this has not scared all of you out of the raspberry patch! I just wanted you to be informed and to make your choices from this knowledge. I am doing the best I can to ensure the finest crops for you, but some things are beyond my control.

[Editorial note from Melinda: most of the years I've belonged to the Farm, the raspberries have developed rust toward the end of the summer. It's just a fact that we live in a humid summer-climate area. I love raspberries so much that I've picked, washed, and frozen them with little rust spots every year, then pureed them later with some sugar and used them in smoothies or jams--they were FINE and delicious! Ditto this year with the Drosophila raspberries.]

FOR YOUR MENU PLANNING, this week you may anticipate:

  • tomatoes
  • sweet white onions
  • German Butterball potatoes
  • Garlic
  • Red Bok Choi
  • Eggplant
  • Peppers
  • Zephyr summer squash
Some further information here on Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD), Biology and Life Cycle (click here for the full essay)

"SWD looks like the typical vinegar fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, of genetics fame. Female vinegar fruit flies lay eggs in damaged or overripe fruit and, hence, are mainly a nuisance. In contrast, female SWD can lay their eggs in ripe, marketable fruit, leading to direct damage of fruit by the larvae...."

How to deal with SWD fruit:  Cool berries immediately. Chilling berries immediately after picking to 32 or 33 degrees F will slow or stop the development of larvae & eggs in the fruit. U-pick customers should be encouraged to follow this strategy to improve fruit quality at home.

There are some important cultural controls that growers can adopt to minimize the buildup of populations. These include removing overripe fruit, as well as wild host plants such as wild grape, raspberry, blackberry, etc.  from nearby fields, and ensuring a timely crop harvest.  (See attached fact sheet from Michigan State University by clicking here.)


"I notice that the worms appear regardless of how fast you refrigerate the fruit. If they appear you can get rid of most of them by soaking them in a bowl with water and a substantial amount of apple cider vinegar. It seems to kill most of the worms. Just a thought."

Thanks, Carrie!

1 comment:

  1. We soak the berries in a bowl of water, swishing them around vigorously, for several minutes or more. At that point the worms rise to the top of the water and can be poured off outside. That way, they're probably still alive. If you're a vegan, it's a way to avoid killing the larvae!