In Florida, southern highbush (SHB) blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum L. × Vaccinium darrowi Camp) are grown for a highly profitable early season fresh market. Flower thrips are the key pest of SHB blueberries, and Frankliniella bispinosa (Morgan) is the most common species found. Flower thrips injure blueberry flowers by feeding and ovipositing in all developing tissues. These injuries can lead to scarring of developing fruit. The objectives of this study were to determine the relationship between thrips and yield in different SHB blueberry cultivars and to determine an action threshold. Experiments were conducted during early spring 2007 and 2008 on four farms; a research farm in Citra, FL; and three commercial farms, two in Hernando Co., FL., and one in Lake Co., FL. At the Citra farm, ‘Emerald’, ‘Jewel’, ‘Millennia’, and ‘Star’ blueberries were compared in 2007, and all but Star were compared in 2008. On the Hernando and Lake Co. farms, two treatment thresholds (100 and 200 thrips per trap) and an untreated control and four cultivars (Emerald, Jewel, Millennia, and ‘Windsor’) were compared. Emerald consistently had more thrips per trap and per flower than the other cultivars on all four farms. However, this did not always lead to an increase in fruit injury. Thrips numbers exceeded the threshold on only one farm in 2007, and there was a significantly lower proportion of injured and malformed fruit in the 100 thrips per trap threshold treatment compared with the control on this farm.
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Vol. 105 • No. 2