Soft fruit growers ‘must remain vigilant’ about Spotted Wing Drosophila

24th Feb 2014

Even if Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD, Drosophila suzukii) has not been detected north of the border yet, Scottish soft fruit growers must not be complacent and should remain on the lookout for the pest during the 2014 season. Scientists at the James Hutton Institute emphasised this point at the annual Soft Fruit Winter Meeting organised by the Scottish Society for Crop Research (SSCR) and Bulrush Horticulture Ltd. in Dundee. The meeting took place at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel on 20 February.

James Hutton Institute researcher Gaynor Malloch discussed identification and trapping methods, highlighting how monitoring, good practice and crop hygiene are key to dealing with this threat. Although no specimens of D. suzukii were detected at any of the Scottish field sites being monitored, soft fruit growers are encouraged to remain vigilant.

Since 2013 a team, led by soft fruit researcher Alison Dolan at the James Hutton Institute has conducted a Spotted Wing Drosophila monitoring project in Scotland, funded jointly by the Scottish Government and the Horticultural Development Company (HDC).

Also at the meeting, James Hutton Institute soft fruit geneticist Dr Julie Graham discussed selective breeding techniques to prevent factors that lead to consumer disappointment such as poor flavour, limited shelf-life, short availability and other quality compromises that, together with high prices, discourage repeat purchases. Blueberry researcher Dr Susan McCallum spoke about the potential for developing a successful UK blueberry industry, while Nikki Jennings, soft fruit breeder at Mylnefield Research Services Ltd., gave an update from the UK Raspberry Breeding Consortium programme.

The meeting was the second time the SSCR has joined forces with Bulrush Horticulture Ltd. to provide a one day event which includes scientific and soft fruit industry presentations as well as trade stands. The event is unique in Scotland as it brings together scientific researchers, growers and trade companies in the soft fruit industry, all of which have an opportunity to provide presentations to be included in the programme.

Participants and contributors to the 2014 Soft Fruit Winter Meeting included HDC, Fargro, Omex, XL Horticulture, Clydeside Trading Society, Elite Tunnels, Certis UK, Ripple Aquaplast, Hutchinsons, Viridaxis and Woodstar.

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