New Publication

Spotted wing Drosophila is a small fruit pest recently introduced to North America.  As the small fly has been found in Wisconsin, cranberry growers were eager to know what kind of a risk it posed to their crop.  With our latest paper, we answer their questions:

Steffan, S.A., J.C. Lee, M.E. Singleton,A. Vilaire, D.B. Walsh,L.S. Lavine, K. Patten. 2013. Susceptibility of Cranberries to Drosophila suzukii (Diptera: Drosophilidae). Journal of Economic Entomology 106(6):2424-2427.

UW Kemp Research Station

Recently the Steffan lab went on the first-ever annual Steffan lab retreat at the Kemp Research station in Woodruff, WI (  It was AWESOME.  Situated on the picturesque Tomahawk Lake, we were able to enjoy the beautiful Wisconsin wilderness and check out wild cranberry.  Led by our fearless leader for the weekend, Kyle Johnson—a Lepidoptera and bog expert—we got to see some really cool stuff. 
Optimized-kemp_opt Optimized-view1_opt
View from the back deck.
We visited a few different wild sites.  The first was an oligotrophic bog, which means nutrient poor.  Here the plants receive nutrients from the air instead of the ground.  The flora found here is unique to these types of highly acidic ecosystems, which is a relatively rare environmental condition so these are not plants one would come across often.
Fruiting wild cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccos) among a bed of moss.
This was what the ground looked like, which was like walking across a spongy mat.
Wild cranberry harvest.  
Tamarack tree, a common bog tree.
Kyle collecting berries.
 Lepidoptera on leatherleaf.
More lichens (British soldiers)!
Kyle’s pet wolfspider.
Next stop was to pick up some wintergreen leaf with which to make tea to warm us up back at the station.  The ground here was pretty much covered with the stuff.


Wintergreen, leaves and berries.


Across the road from the wintergreen we came upon these little guys, Lycopodia.  This is where we discovered the Lycophile among us – Janet.  This is her favorite group of plants, and after finding out why the rest of us have to agree that they are in fact,  very cool.  Fun Lycopodia fact #1, these plants are as ancient as the dinosaurs when they grew into massive trees.  Fun Lycopodia fact #2, early photographers would ignite spores of the Lycopodia plant, which were naturally flammable, to create a flash for their photographs.


Slime mold.
Our last stop was this place, which felt like how we imagine entering an enchanted forest would be.  These mossy hummocks were so cool and so beautiful.



Close-up of a hummock.  There was more of the sphagnum moss, like at the wild cranberry bog, but then also this delicate-looking little vine plant, snowberry.


And in case we ran out of wintergreen tea, we picked up this to make Labrador tea.  This plant was so aromatic it was just in the air, which was downright lovely and contributed to the “enchanted forest” feel of this setting.


Cranberry sauce made from our wild harvest, which was delicious. 


Perusing around the station Annie came across this leaf gall.


Kerry, being a trooper.


Exploring around the station.  While this doesn’t look strange, the ground they are walking on is essentially floating so it feels as if they are walking on a water bed.

Group shot.
We decided if we were a band this is the photo we would use for our album cover, and we would be called “The Oligotrophics.”
Sunset on Lake Tomahawk.
Thanks again, Kyle, for inspiring and spearheading a really educational (and really fun!) weekend.

Fearless Farm Finances Webinar

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection is offering a number of workshops including a webinar discussing farm finances. For a pdf copy of the workshop reminder, go here.

Quickbooks 1: Introduction

Webinar: Beginner Quickbooks

Employee Management 1: Guiding the Herd

Webinar: Employee Management

Missed a workshop? The WDATCP has a webinar archive with free videos hosted by YouTube.

–Liz Bosak

Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers’ Association’s Meeting Is in 10 Days

The WSCGA will be hosting their Winter Meeting and Cranberry School on January 22 and 23, 2013 at the Holiday Inn and Convention Center in Stevens Point, WI. The Winter Meeting on January 22 features a trade-show with vendors offering products ranging from irrigation equipment to pollination services. The Cranberry School is an educational event with a series of presentations on a variety of production-related topics that spans both days.

The Pesticide Applicator Training will take place from 8:00 AM until 11:45 AM on Tuesday, January 22.

Davey Hyer and Jane Larson from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection with be talking about “Cranberry Farm Inspections: Strengths and Areas for Improvement.” Bill Outhouse and Walt Coussens will be discussing the use of food grade oils and grease for harvest equipment lubrication. Have truck maintenance issues? Well, Harry Newmann will be there to answer your questions. Many more subjects will be covered including safe working conditions, oil spill prevention and containment, animal damage, harvest technologies, irrigation water pH, and personal protective equipment.

Many researchers from the USDA-Agricultural Research Service, University of Wisconsin, and University of Wisconsin-Extension will be presenting at this year’s Cranberry School:

–Spotted Wing Drosophila, Sparganothis Phenology, and a new look at the flooding data, Shawn Steffan, USDA-ARS

–Carrying-on some tasty bits of the UW Cranberry Breeding Program, Eric Zeldin, UW Horticulture

–Genetics Program Update, Juan Zalapa, USDA-ARS

–Sustainability Survey, Jed Colquhoun, UW Extension

–Irrigation and Soil Moisture Monitoring, Rebecca Harbut, UW Extension

–What’s New in the Pesticide Screening Program, Jack Perry, UW Pesticide Screening Program

–Reflecting on Bud Appearance and its Role in Yield Prediction, Lisa Wasko-DeVetter, UW Horticulture Grad Student

–Pheromone Mating Disruption, Annie Deutsch, UW Entomology Grad Student

–Meet Our New Entomologist, Christelle Guedot, UW Extension

–Disease Observations from 2012, Patty McManus, UW Extension

–Targeting Red-Headed Flea Beetle Larvae, Liz Bosak, USDA-ARS

USDA Census of Agriculture

Have you filled out your USDA Census of Agriculture form? The form is due by February 4, 2013. Go here, to complete the form online with the Census ID from the form that you recieved in the mail.

Any farm that produces more than $1,000 is eligible to participate. The information will remain confidential.

The homepage has links to the results of the 2002 and 2007 Census.

Spotted Wing Drosophila in Cranberry: Is this an Issue?

Here is an article from the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers’ Association newsletter about recent research in the Steffan lab:

Cranberries and spotted wing Drosophila (SWD) in Wisconsin

Shawn Steffan (USDA-ARS Madison, WI), Jana Lee (USDA-ARS Corvallis, OR), Laura Lavine (Washington State University), Doug Walsh (Washington State University), Chase Metzger (Washington State University), Juan Zalapa (USDA-ARS Madison, WI), Christelle Guédot (University of Wisconsin-Madison), and Phil Pellitteri (University of Wisconsin-Madison).

This holiday season, there will be one demographic that won’t want to eat fresh cranberries: spotted wing Drosophila maggots. Drosophila suzukii, commonly known as SWD, does not appear to like cranberries very much. Following multiple replicated trials using ripe, under-ripe, and over-ripe organic Wisconsin cranberries, SWD females would not (or could not) insert eggs into under-ripe or ripe cranberries. This suggests that healthy, current-year fruit should be safe from attack.

Scaptomyza (Drosophilid)

Among the over-ripe, decaying cranberries (harvested, frozen, thawed, refrigerated) just two eggs were found among many berries, but no mature larvae were detected, and no adults emerged. Fortunately, rotting fruit don’t make it into the harvest because they generally don’t float. Decaying fruit get devoured every spring and summer by other drosophilid flies (see photograph above), various beetles, and countless hordes of mites and springtails.

While none of the SWD larvae successfully developed within the highly acidic flesh of fresh cranberries, studies using physically damaged cranberries showed that SWD could develop to adulthood. Again, these berries represented wounded, decaying fruit, not the sort of berries that would get harvested. That said, SWD populations could build within cranberry beds and potentially play a role in regional source-sink dynamics.

Unfortunately, SWD females love blueberries and raspberries—this we learned early. The good news for cranberry growers is that SWD adults have only rarely been trapped in/near cranberry beds, and in these cases, a blueberry or raspberry patch was nearby.

So, the take-home message: current-year cranberries (that aren’t damaged and/or rotting) appear to be safe from SWD attack. Conversely, last-year’s decaying bounty of unharvested cranberries may be vulnerable. SWD populations will likely be found each spring and summer in fruit-growing regions, but the risk to cranberry production seems minimal.

If you are suspicious of any infested fruit, contact your local Extension agent.

For other fruit crops, here is a list of resources that may be helpful:

University of Wisconsin Extension has released an article on Spotted Wing Drosophila, Drosophila suzukii, with several suggestions for scouting and trapping the fruit flies.

University of Wisconsin-Madison has a website about the Spotted Wing Drosophila in Wisconsin.

The University of Minnesota and Michigan State University have web pages with extensive lists of resources including a map of counties with SWD in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

North Carolina State University’s Small Fruit and Specialty Crop IPM blog

Pacific Northwest Insect Management Handbook SWD page

–Liz Bosak

Drought in Washington State May Impact Cranberry Harvest

Cranberry, a fruit native to North America, is grown primarily in Wisconsin, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maine, Oregon, British Columbia, Quebec, and Washington. Contrary to the public’s perception from television commercials, cranberries are not grown underwater. Flooding is used periodically throughout the growing season for harvest, pest control, and frost protection. Cranberry marshes are intimately tied to their wetland areas to provide water for irrigation, frost protection, and flooding.

Wisconsin cranberry growers have avoided many negative effects of the drought but the same is not true for growers in Washington. Reduced water resources may delay or prolong the harvest. For the full Seattle Times article, go here.

Nutritious Cranberry Juice Processing By-Products?

Nearly half of the total flavonols, a phytochemical found in cranberry fruit, is left in the stems, skins, and pulp after processing cranberries for juice according to recent USDA research featured in this USDA-ARS news release.

Flavonols have been linked to human health benefits. The Cranberry Institute has compiled a wealth of information related to cranberry and human health research. Go to their homepage to access their research library, a link is provided on the lower left-hand corner.

Here is a link to the Cranberry Pomace Scientific article.

Here is a link to the Western Farm Press article.