The stink bug, again?

06/30/2011 03:40:00 PM
Tom Karst

The stink bug, again?

Apparently so. The recent issue of the U.S. Apple Association’s Apple News contained an article about alarming levels of the pest in the mid-Atlantic region. From Apple News:

 As a result of the dramatic increase in reports of damage from the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) to apples, peaches and other crops in the Mid-Atlantic region, USApple has issued a “Grower Alert” to Mid- Atlantic growers. Growers in areas where the BMSB has been confirmed were urged to closely monitor their orchards for possible BMSB activity. During the last week of May and the first week of June, researchers from the Appalachian Fruit Research Station (AFRS) in Kearneysville, WV, Penn State, Virginia Tech, and the University of Maryland all reported a striking increase in BMSB damage to peach and apple orchards in the Mid-Atlantic area. The explosive increase in BMSB damage occurred following a period of above normal temperatures in the Mid-Atlantic area. Early damage was been attributed to adult BMSB feeding, but scattered reports of BMSB egg masses in areas adjoining orchards, including wheat fields, suggests that damage from newly hatched nymphs will soon occur. Of great concern to researchers is that levels of damage being observed as of early June this year equal or exceed levels observed last year in the late July – early August period, when Mid- Atlantic growers suffered crop losses of 18 percent.

 I called up Mark Seetin, Vienna, Va.-based U.S. Apple’s director of regulatory and industry affairs about the issue June 30.

Seetin said that although the stink bug caused substantial damage last year, the losses may be worse this year.

“From the observations I have read out in the field, the (stink bug) is dramatically increasing its activity, covering a broader area and probably about a month or so ahead of last year,” he said.

Some orchards have already incurred damage levels of 10% to 15%. “That is obviously a concern, given that we are some distance from harvest,” Seetin said.

Seetin believes some growers may not be taking the pest as seriously as they need to be because the stealthy bug doesn’t advertise itself and feeds at night.

What’s more, there is not a standard way to treat the bug.

“I just hope the growers are vigilant about this thing.”

Because the stink bug feeds right up until harvest, there will be no relaxing until the apples are in the bin, and perhaps not even then if the fruit has hidden damage. Hang on - it could be another bumpy growing season in the mid-Atlantic.

Contact Mark Seetin at mseetin@usapple.org for more information on the pest.



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