Strawberry season has started to kick into high gear on the Central Coast (at least until this spell of rain), and inevitably comparisons arise of fruit sizes. The posting of a 154 gram fruit by the CalPoly Strawberry Center on their Facebook page prompted a local breeder, CBC, to forward me the picture posted below of a substantially larger fruit from their program weighing 194 grams.
That's close to a half a pound people. For perspective, I weighed an apple (yes, I do eat fruit other than berries) and it was only 150 grams.
Just a note on the rain. I spoke with someone earlier who will make a media appearance today, but yes rain will damage a lot of fruit. Many of our varieties tolerate up to a quarter inch before exhibiting water damage, some up to a half an inch. Don't forget too that a week of free moisture is going to really kick up the Botrytis counts, which weren't low to begin with. Hopefully a lot of you growers and managers have had the foresight to put up some sprays to protect that bloom, maybe even bringing out the good stuff from the back of the barn - don't forget to mix it with a good spreader sticker too.
Never a dull moment here in Berryland I tell you.
If you read Spanish and want to know more about Botrytis in strawberry with a focus on this year, I include for you below my interview with UC ANR's Spanish language service. If you listen to Spanish radio, you will have occasion to hear their public service announcements sprinkled from time to time into some of the commercial breaks. It's a good deal, they do a lot of translation of the work being up and down the state by our division, as well as do live interviews with those of us who have some facility the language.
A number of you have checked in about large numbers of larvae and or butterflies that haven't been very common in the past years. We find them a lot on cheeseweed (Malva), but there is some damage on berries as you can see from the pictures below.
Great post included below from colleague Emily Symmes up in Colusa County on this one; she checked in with UC Emeritus Professor Art Shapiro and the bottom line that our berries are not much of a host. Plus these guys are just passing through on their migration north. Nice to have them here though for a bit, really pretty butterflies and a lot of them.
Again, thanks to the PCA's for giving the head's up on this one.
I've heard it said that blackberries could be grown out of concrete. While a bit incredulous on that claim, I did come across a blackberry plant growing out of an old railroad tie (how it got there is anybodies guess, as you can see people leave their shopping carts here also) on my walk home last night. If you are from Watsonville, this is on the east side of Pioneer Cemetery by the drainage ditch; there's also a big growth of Himalayan blackberry very close by.
While most people might not give this much thought, the professional in me begs that I do. Isn't this tie full of creosote, which prevents decay and I assuming plant growth? Aeration is probably primo, but where on earth is this plant extracting nutrients? The C/N ratio on this must off the charts, so how is it nourishing itself? How about water?
I'll keep watching it, doubt that it gets to fruiting but if it does I'll post it.
Sometimes what seems so obvious from the isolated heights of the ivory tower is not so obvious for those working in the field.
In a query which is far from the first time, I had a question submitted over the weekend over whether worms emerging from strawberry fruit were LBAM. LBAM, which is the acronym for light brown apple moth, is also found in berry fields as is Drosophila, but as a quarantined lepidoperous pest responds to different methods of control as well as carrying a heavy regulatory risk with it. In short, it's real important to not get the two mixed up!
The picture below of the bell jar where the fruit in question was held shows what was found. It's not LBAM. The larvae are quite small (probably 1/8" when fully grown), are white, are emerging from inside the fruit and have no webbing.
The second picture is of an LBAM larva on strawberry. It's green in color, relatively large compared to Drosophila larvae (1/2 inch when fully grown is common), rarely is found inside the fruit and is almost always accompanied by an abundance webbing (as it is in the picture).
As always, really appreciate the input and questions as to what is all going on out there.