Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD) Was Not An Issue For Saskatoons in 2017

POSTED IN For Growers ON 11/3/2017

While Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD), an invasive species of fruit fly, did significant damage to fruit crops in Michigan in 2017, including cherries, raspberries and blueberries, there were literally zero reports of damage to saskatoon berry crops.

Saskatoon berries are harvested earlier in the summer than many other fruit varieties, which may have helped some. However, the SWD counts rose much earlier this year than in the past few years, which provided opportunities for damage, yet growers were spared.

The saving grace may be related to the character of the fruit itself. While saskatoons look much like blueberries, they are actually a pome fruit, a family of fruit that includes apples and pears.

The combination of season timing and fruit characteristics provide hope that, in this changing environment, saskatoons will remain a good crop for production, consumer satisfaction and economic return for growers.

For more information on Spotted Wing Drosophila in Michigan, go to

To learn more about saskatoon berries, keep reading on this site, and visit one or more of our members in July 2018 that offers U-Pick and/or a variety of products made with yummy saskatoon berries.


Background (From Michigan State University)
The Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD) is a vinegar fly of East Asian origin that can cause damage to many fruit crops. This small insect has been in Hawaii since the 1980s, was detected in California in 2008, spread through the West Coast in 2009, and was detected in Florida, Utah, the Carolinas, Wisconsin and Michigan for the first time in 2010. Because the flies are only a few millimeters long and cannot fly very far, natural dispersion between states is unlikely. Human-assisted transportation is a more likely cause of the recent rapid spread. It appears that this insect has become widely established through North America.

Novel Berries Will Have Half-Day Breakout At The Great Lakes EXPO

POSTED IN For Growers ON 11/3/2017

The 2017 Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable, Farm Market, and Greenhouse Growers EXPO will include a half-day breakout sessions on Novel berries on Tuesday, December 5, 2017 from 2:00 – 4:20 PM.

This breakout will include presentations on: , including: saskatoons, haskaps, aronia and goji berries.



The Expo is held annually in Grand Rapids, MI at Devos Place Conference Center and The Amway Grand Plaza Hotel.

4,200 people from 42 states and 8 Canadian provinces attended the 2016 Expo.

the 2017 Expo will include 70+ education sessions and workshops and 450+ tradeshow exhibitors.

Come learn more about how these berries can help you diversify your crops and affect your financial future.



2017 GL EXPO Education Program


To register, go to:

When is the best time for soil testing? Right now?

POSTED IN For Growers ON 10/13/2017

This article provides good perspective on why fall soil testing can give you the best start for next spring.

To see the full article, go to –

Will spotted wing Drosophila become a pest of saskatoon berries in 2017?

POSTED IN For Growers ON 7/5/2017

Duke Elsner, of The Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Center, has been studying spotted wind Drosophila (SWD) for the last few years.

In this article

Will spotted wing Drosophila become a pest of saskatoon berries in 2017?

he reports some of his findings, and suggests some ways to deal with SWD if you are seeing them in your orchard.

Farms in Michigan have another tool, just in case they need to fight SWD

POSTED IN For Growers ON 6/30/2017

Michigan State University Extension confirms that a new pesticide Special Local Need (SLN) Label includes saskatoons too!

Dr. Erwin “Duke” Elsner Ph.D. reports that Delegate WG can be used, in Michigan, if saskatoon growers are seeing signs of Spotted Wing Drosophila in their orchards.

All regular safety requirements are still in play.

FIFRA Section 24(c) Special Local Need (SLN) Label

Sucrose As A Possible Bird Repellent

POSTED IN For Growers ON 6/29/2017

Birds are wonderful to have around, except when they are picking your pocket.

Many who hope to produce a significant harvest of saskatoons and other fruit can be confounded, just a day or two before harvest, by a swarm of hungry birds.

Many who would like to reduce their losses have no ill-intent towards birds. They do not want to hurt the birds. Rather, they seek to redirect the birds away from their cash crop in which they have made a significant investment of effort and money.

While we, at the Institute, have not yet identified the fool-proof (or bird-proof) method, we continue to seek options with some level of proven effectiveness. It is in this light that we provide this article by Carols Martinez del Rio, Michael L. Avery and Kristin E. Brugger.

Sucrose as a Feeding Deterrent for Fruit-Eating Birds

We are also aware that several have reported positive effects with Avian Control.

If you have had positive experiences over whole fields with other bird repellents, please let us know at:

Farmland: who will control farm land 20 years from now?

POSTED IN For Growers ON 6/10/2017

Sell A Farm, Buy A Farm, Save A Farm

Sell A Farm, Buy A Farm, Save A Farm


by Ross Boissoneau

“In the next 20 years, 70 percent of the privately owned farmland in the United States will change hands. Our region has over 80,000 acres,” says Sam Plotkin, farm programs manager at the Leelanau Conservancy.

Meanwhile, 20- and 30-somethings view farming as an emerging career option, as “farm to table” dining and craft wine and beer generate more visibility. The challenge is how to connect those farmers who want to sell with those looking to buy.

Farmer to Farmer

That’s the rationale behind a new collaboration between the Leelanau Conservancy, the Grand Traverse Conservancy, Taste the Local Difference and MSU Horticulture Station. Farmer to Farmer is a web-based platform that organizers believe will help those looking to purchase or sell farms and farmland.

Plotkin says an aging agricultural industry will inevitably lead to what he calls “a significant generational property transfer.” That’s where Farmer to Farmer – – comes in. The website (expected to launch next week) will include a database of farmers looking to divest themselves of land holdings and persons looking for agricultural opportunities. Tricia Phelps, operations director at Taste the Local Difference, says it is a marriage of today’s tech world with the agricultural industry that helped shape the region. “It’s an opportunity offered by technology…going back to our agrarian roots,” she says.

Farmer to Farmer is intended to keep farmland in the hands of those who see the value of tilling the soil, rather than having property sold for development.

Opportunities in an Essential Industry

Agriculture is increasingly being looked upon favorably, says Phelps, because of both its economic impact and its scenic beauty. “Farms weren’t looked at as part of the business community, as being important to the economy,” she says.

No more. The wine, brewing and distilling industries have focused attention on growing everything from grapes to hops, rye and wheat, while restaurants clamor for fresh, local meats and vegetables.

Despite their far-reaching social networks, many younger people are stymied when looking to get into agriculture, often just communicating with their peers in the 25-to-35 age range – not the likely age of someone looking to get out of farming.

But they’re hardly the only ones looking. “In the past three months, I’ve had 15 people call me looking to buy or lease, or sell or lease. And I only serve one county,” says Plotkin. That’s where the regional approach will broaden the audience; the site will list properties for sale in Grand Traverse, Leelanau, Benzie and Antrim counties. Potential buyers will be able to search by price, acreage, or location, as well as whether they are looking to buy, lease, lease to buy, or enter into partnership with the owner.

The site will also list what machinery or equipment is available, any buildings, and what kinds of farm-related jobs are available. “That’s what we think is unique,” Plotkin says. Think of it as a combination of Craigslist and Zillow for farming.

Both Plotkin and Phelps add that the site is in no way meant as a replacement for the real estate industry, but rather to complement it. Whether a landowner or a realtor, there will be no cost to post on the new site, they say.

Identifying and Coping With Infestation in Saskatoon Berry Crops: presentations at the 2017 Northwestern Michigan Orchard & Vineyard Show

POSTED IN For Growers ON 4/17/2017

Extension office researchers presented their findings regarding infestation at the 2017 Northwest Michigan Orchard & Vineyard Show (click on topic name to see presentation). This information will be valuable to many growers to assist in protecting top quality fruit production and availability. One newcomer for many types of fruit is Spotted-Wing Drosophila. So far these insects have had little impact on saskatoon berries, possibly partly because the ripen earlier than many fruits. Vigilance can be essential in minimizing crop damage due to infesting insects.

This fruit shows no sign of infestation

Saskatoon berries on the bush

Saskatoon fruit-infesting insects – ID, phenology and impacts (Duke Elsner, MSU Extension)

Results and Observations from the Pruning Demonstration Plot  (Duke Elsner, MSU Extension)

Novel Berry GREEEN Grant (Duke Elsner, MSU Extension)                    

SWD in Strawberries, Blueberries and Raspberries Carlos Garcia-Salazar, MSU Extension

Detecting SWD larve in fruit samples Karen Powers, NW Michigan Horticultural Research Center, MSU

SWD Adult Detection With Traps Carlos Garcia-Salazar, MSU Extension

Other topics of this Concurrent Session included an introduction to The Saskatoon Berry Institute of North America, Pesticide Recertification, and time to learn more about vendor products and services.

2017 Pest Management Information: Weeds, Insects & Unwanted Animal Consumers

POSTED IN For Growers, For Members ON 3/14/2017

Pest Management is an annual challenge for those who love to eat saskatoon berries.  While saskatoons are native to North America, there are several native, as well as invasive, pests that can challenge a healthy harvest.

Saskatoon Pest Management specialist

Dr. Erwin “Duke” Elsner, PhD

Dr. Erwin ‘Duke’ Elsner just released this year’s list of produce-rescuing recommendations, based on Michigan agricultural standards. This includes several organic options. The point of this list is to help growers identify diseases and insects that can damage plants and fruit, and then select responses for each based on the growers preferences and unique conditions.

Part of the effort here is to be very careful to encourage pollinators and other helpful insects. You can find more about how to develop pollinator habitat in our blog posts from last winter.

May you all have more than enough saskatoon berries to enjoy this coming summer!

2017 Saskatoon Disease and Insect Pesticide Recommendations

Saskatoon Fungicides 2017

Saskatoon Herbicides 2017

Saskatoon Insecticides 2017

Have You Figured Out When to Water?

POSTED IN For Growers ON 7/22/2016

It’s Friday, and that means its the day each week when I will water the office plants. Why on Fridays?  Why not?  Of course, I am not building a commercial food empire with the window full of greenery here.

How about you? Do you have a plan for when to irrigate your saskatoons? What is your plan based on?

thumbMichigan State University/Purdue Extension Irrigation Educator highlights resources available for fine tuning your irrigation schedule.

When should you start irrigation?

How much water should you add? 

What resources are available to help decide when and how to water?  

Check out this article to see how you might tune up your irrigation schedule and improve your harvest: