Blackberry producers from around the nation are taking part in a Tasmanian-led research project to combat redberry mite, a tiny pest which threatens the industry’s ongoing expansion.
The project is led by Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA) entomologist, Dr Stephen Quarrell, and involves close collaboration with producers to find out how integrated pest management strategies can be implemented on commercial blackberry farms.
“We can provide interested blackberry growers with sample kits containing all the information required to take part in this project, and it is as simple as collecting 40 red berries from a block of blackberries,” Dr Quarrell said.
The project is funded by Hort Innovation using the research and development Rubus industry levy and funds from the Australian Government, supported with in-kind contributions from TIA.
What is redberry mite?
Redberry mite causes blackberries to ripen unevenly, typically creating a berry that is half-black and half-red. This damage reduces the yield of first grade blackberries available for sale.
Simon Dornauf of Hillwood Berries is one of the Tasmanian producers taking part in the project. He is confident the research can help find a solution for the industry.
“We have experienced crop losses of up to 20 per cent due to redberry mite. It not only compromises our yield of first grade fruit but impacts on our harvest costs. Harvest is slower and more costly when there is redberry mite fruit present,” Simon Dornauf said.
Year 1 update - 2017/18 season
It's been a flying start for the redberry mite team and the results from the first season are available in the factsheet Redberry Update 2018 (PDF 449.3 KB). You will find information from the grower survey, results from fruit monitoring, a summary of currently available management options and the plan for Year 2 integrated pest management trials in blackberries.
A new mite monitoring method developed by TIA honours student Hui Law is described in this factsheet: Redberry Mite Lifecycle and Monitoring (PDF 992.4 KB)
You can watch the video presentation of the redberry mite grower workshop held in Tasmania in November 2018.
Year 2 update- 2018/19 season
In season 2 we set out to answer some key questions about redberry mite and what management strategies have commercial potential. This involved a lot more mite counting both from winter buds and in fruit and some strategic release of predatory mites. The key questions for this season:
- Does redberry mite occur in all Australian production regions?
- Which commercial varieties are most susceptible?
- What is the impact of different predatory mites?
- How many mites are needed to cause fruit damage?
A snapshot of the results can be viewed in the factsheet: Redberry mite update 2019 (PDF 578.0 KB)
Year 3 update - 2019/20 Season
Dr Steve Quarrell conducted a workshop with Driscoll's growers in Tasmania with updates from the 2019/20 season.
For more information contact:
Thanks to all growers and consultants who have participated in the sampling program and continue to be such an important part of this research.