Fine-mesh exclusion netting is a potential alternative to organic and conventional insecticide application to control numerous pests of fruit crops. We tested whether fine-mesh exclusion netting would reduce pest abundance and increase marketable yield compared to organic spinosad insecticide sprays in an organically managed blackberry field. At the completion of flowering, we covered blackberry rows with fine-mesh exclusion netting (ProtekNet) and treated alternating rows with an organic spinosad insecticide (Entrust™). Fine-mesh exclusion reduced green June beetle (Cotinus nitida
Linnaeus) and bird presence and marginally reduced Japanese beetle (Popillia japonica
Newman) presence on blackberry canes compared to organic spinosad insecticide treatment. Exclusion netting reduced the capture of spotted-wing Drosophila (Drosophila suzukii
Matsumara; “SWD”) in baited traps in the fourth week of exclusion and reduced the overall number of SWD adults emerging from harvested blackberry fruits. Marketable yield in the fine-mesh exclusion treatments was two times higher than the organic spinosad insecticide treatment. These results suggest that fine-mesh exclusion netting is a functional pest control alternative to insecticide treatment for organic blackberry production.
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