The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) has confirmed the presence of a new pest, the Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD), at Wright-Locke Farm. Consequently, we have reluctantly begun a program of spraying to control the SWD. In the summer season, we spray OMRI-certified organic agents that meet our organic certification standards.
The Spotted Wing Drosophila (Drosophila suzukii), is an Asian species of fruit fly recently introduced in the United States. It was first found on the west coast in 2008, but has rapidly colonized all fruit-producing regions of the country. Most fruit flies are annoying but harmless, propagating in overripe fruit. Instead, the SWD lays its eggs in fruit just nearing its peak. A few years ago, SWD arrived unexpectedly in New England, forcing Wright-Locke Farm and most other raspberry growers in the region to close down early.
We now expect the return of SWD each year and plan accordingly. Our control program is based upon experience gained in other states that have been dealing with this pest for several years. It involves picking ripe fruit as soon as possible, disposing of overripe and infected fruits, and spraying the raspberry plants once a week to ensure that we limit damage to our crop. The OMRI-certified insecticides we employ (Entrust & PyGanic) are naturally-derived products that we apply during evening hours to reduce the impact on beneficial insects. Entrust is produced through the fermentation of a naturally occurring soil bacterium, while PyGanic is a refined natural pyrethrum derived from the Chrysanthemum plant.
This program of monitoring and spraying has successfully controlled the SWD on other farms and we appreciate your understanding as we deal with this new pest. You can help us by thoroughly picking as you go and by not dropping overripe or infected fruit on the ground (we use separate buckets to collect these fruits and encourage you to feed them to our chickens or goats to ensure their destruction). Though neither of the products we use to combat SWD are known to be toxic to humans at the concentrations we employ, we recommend that you wash your berries just before use (washing the berries reduces their shelf life). Contact the Farm if you have any questions about SWD or our control measures.