Smith, M.1; Popenoe, J.2; Phillips, D.3; Liburd, O.4; Lopez, M.5
1Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Agent, UF/IFAS Extension Sumter, Pasco and Hernando County, Bushnell, FL, 33513
2Commercial Fruit Production Agent, UF/IFAS Extension Orange, Lake and Marion, Tavares, FL, 32778
3UF/IFAS Blueberry Extension Coordinator, UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center, Bushnell, FL, 33513
4Professor and Program Leader, Fruit & Vegetable Entomology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, 32611
5PhD Candidate, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, 32611


Blueberry gall midge (BGM) is a new blueberry pest that threatens Florida production. This minute insect lays its eggs in the blueberry buds. The resulting larvae eat the buds, destroying flowers and leaves and thus impacting yield. Detection is difficult and timely sprays are required to prevent damage. Objectives: This program was developed to assist growers in making decisions about BGM control to minimize unnecessary sprays while maintaining production. Methods: Regional agents and the Blueberry Extension Coordinator set up traps and monitored BGM populations in Central Florida farms on a weekly basis throughout the flowering season. 15 farms were monitored in 2018/19 and, of these farms, the 2 farms in each Agent’s region with the highest BGM populations (8 total) were monitored in 2019/20. Population tallies were reported to the Blueberry Extension Coordinator who collaborated with the Florida Blueberry Growers Association (FBGA) to rapidly disseminate data to growers. FBGA members were surveyed to determine if this program helped them reduce sprays or increase yields. Following the completion of the 2018/19 monitoring program, an educational program was provided with seminars on blueberry pests including hands-on identification exercises with an emphasis on blueberry gall midge. The 2020 educational program is postponed due to COVID-19. Results: All survey respondents, 29% of whom own 100+ acre farms, indicated that they used the published results of the monitoring program to assist in making spray decisions. 57% reduced their pesticide use and 57% observed reduced pest damage. Growers reported reduced production costs. Twenty-two growers attended the educational program in Spring 2019 and responded positively to an exit survey. Conclusions: 1,345 BGM were identified across 15 farms in the region during the danger period in 2018/19. 221 BGM were identified in 8 farms in 2019/20. The program resulted in diminished damage, reduced pesticide use, and grower savings.

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