Friday, October 30, 2009

Hop Pest Problems

I have just got back my latest report card from the Plant Pathology Lab in Raleigh. They are a little slow getting things done down there so by the time I got back my report, the bugs had already destroyed my entire crop! Whoa there, just kidding, but they are slow. I would assume that they have a large volume they are dealing with?

What I have found from this report and one submitted previously about two months ago is that I have no plant disease problems. This was good news of course on that front, but I did find some bad news as well. Seems that I have spider mites and leaf hopper infestations.

To keep myself informed on the disease and pest problems that can affect hops, I bought the "Compendium of Hop Diseases and Pests". The book is expensive, but worth it if you are going to be involved with this crop. I was able to get it on Amazon for $65. Compendiums are available for many different crops as well, full of slick pictures and info.

The Hops Compendium

So, back to the problem at hand. I have decided to look at biological control methods, keeping my production organic so far. After doing research on the two-spotted spider mite, I was able to find some beneficial mite predators listed. After a quick trip to the hop yard, I brought back a couple of samples of leaves for inspection.

To my surprise, I don't think I found any spider mites. Instead, I found what I think is one of the beneficial predators called a Phytoseiulus Persimilis. This guy feeds on all stages of the spider mite and consumes 2-3 adults or several dozen eggs a day. It is also suited to the cooler and wetter climates that we have here.

The "Mighty Mite" Phytoseiulus Persimilis

So, get out your hand lenses and start looking. This photo was taken with a hand lens. P.Persimilis is about the size of the tip of a very sharp pen. Remember, be careful if you are going to spray for spider mites. That spray may also be killing the "good guys" as well.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

My trip to Washington

I recently went to Washington to discuss my hop operation with some of the officials there.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Blueberry maintenance

I have started my winterising of the irrigation for my blueberries and hops. The rainfall we have been getting for October is about average and I would say that our first freeze is not that far down the road. I drained all lines except for my misting station where I will continue misting at a reduced misting rate of five seconds every 25 minutes for 4 hours to help harden off the plants. I have rolled up my drip lines and labeled them for next year.

I also started my final weeding for the blueberries. Hopefully this will help keep any weed seed from being directly seeded into my beds. I am currently taking an organics workshop at the Buncombe County Extension service taught by Sue Colucci. Our next class Tuesday night is all about weeding so I will come in with good experience and dirt under the fingernails.

With fall upon us, my favorite time of the year, I have played hooky a couple of times recently and have taken a tour of the high country above me. I have included one shot taken at Craggy Gardens that shows the brilliant Mountain Ash berries in full display.
. Looking north from Craggy Pinnacle