This morning, I visited our strawberry research plots at the Central Crops Research Station, Clayton, NC. We will be using these plots for sap beetle, caterpillar, and spotted wing drosophila research this spring, and, like most of the southeast, our plants are pushing early. It looks as though we will have berries in about 3 weeks, which is a month ahead of our normal schedule.
Along with this potentially early strawberry crop comes early questions about pest management. I have fielded lots of questions about strawberry clippers and two spotted spider mites in the last few weeks. I posted several times last spring about strawberry clippers, and you can find those posts here. You can also find my posts on spider mites from the last several years here. For grower with spider mite populations at threshold (5 mites/leaflet in a sample of 10 leaflets per acre) and plants that have not yet started fruiting, now is a good time to get those populations under control. You can prevent mite issues later in the season by treating now with a miticide and avoiding the use of broad spectrum insecticides (pyrethroids and carbamates) unless absolutely necessary for other insect pests. If a broad spectrum material is needed, for example against sap beetle or SWD infestations, scout for spider mites before and watch populations carefully follow a treatment. For growers who do not have mites about threshold (or no mites at all), you can breathe a little easier--barring a major slow down in plant growth, you may avoid the need to treat at all for mites. Once plants are actively fruiting and rapidly growing, mite populations must be very high to cause damage--and very high mite populations typically only develop if you start off with mites earlier in year (around now).
Strawberry clipper posts - NC Small Fruit and Specialty Crop IPM
Two spotted spider mite posts - NC Small Fruit and Specialty Crop IPM