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Managing the strawberry "clipper"

Cooperative Extension educator Regina Rieckenberg had a familiar pest in mind when she met with 70 strawberry growers at a twilight meeting in Oswego County last summer: the strawberry bud weevil, nicknamed the "clipper."

Most New York strawberry growers apply at least one clipper spray each year to stop the insects from clipping off the strawberry buds. Is this necessary? To find out, Rieckenberg identified nine fields likely to have clipper problems. Sections of these fields were left untouched by insecticides, and plants in those sections were monitored every other day for clippers.

End-of-season measurements showed that neither yield nor fruit size was affected by the presence of clippers until the number of clipped buds exceeded 20 per meter of row. Thus, growers may be able to forego sprays for clippers until injuries exceed this number. (The "economic threshold" used to be 2 clipped buds per meter of row.) Studies by fruit IPM coordinator Joe Kovach have also shown that when circumstances do warrant chemical treatment, it can be limited to the outside 30 feet of a field, where clipper activity is highest.