Vicky BoydSpotted wing drosophila were just one of many insect pests that Southeastern fruit and berry growers had to contend with during 2013.Disease and pest pressures were the top concerns among Southeastern growers last season, and they say those issues are prompting them to change their production programs this year.
Those are the results of a survey conducted among attendees of the recent Southeast Fruit and Vegetable Conference in Savannah, Ga., on behalf of Wilmington, Del.-based DuPont Crop Protection.
Because of consumer and retailer demand for high-quality produce, more than half of the respondents said they were changing production programs this year.
And more than half—53 percent—of those surveyed said consumer perception and demand for visually appealing crops influenced their crop protection programs.
Nearly the same number, 51 percent, said they planned to change their program to continue producing aesthetically pleasing crops for both the domestic and export markets.
The survey found that disease and pests were the number one challenge during 2013, followed by labor availability and changing food safety regulations.
To manage the pest challenges, 19 percent of growers surveyed said they were looking to invest in new crop protection technologies and 17 percent said they woud consider alternate and increased applications.