Great results in combatting grubs in blueberries

Testimonial 07 March 2019

For several decades the Wilczewscy Horticultural Farm in Białousy in the far east of Poland produced various plants and cut flowers. But in de mid-nineties the production changed to blueberries. Biological crop protection using Koppert nematodes proved to be a great success.

Some years ago the Melolontha melolontha grubs started to cause problems in the 560-hectare blueberry crop. Owner and General Manager Jerzy Wilczewski: ‘For this reason we started searching for biological methods to combat these pests in 2016. We conducted tests with various products including nematodes. Comparing the results, nematodes showed the best efficiency, and in 2017 we started to use nematodes systematically.’

The plantations are located in beautiful, pristine surroundings and the farm has always been inseparable from the nature that surrounds it, says Jerzy Wilczewski: ‘This is why we wanted our crop protection to be biological, to avoid affecting the surrounding nature with chemicals. We also use light traps to catch adult beetles during the night. One trap is able to catch several thousand beetles. In the fight against grubs, we were supported by birds and badgers which feed on the larvae of this pest. We didn’t want to disturb the cooperation that nature offers us. Fortunately, our climate is not conducive to the development of pests, so other pests do not cause big problems and we don't have to fight them.’

‘Our patience was rewarded’

The Wilczewscy Garden Farm has worked with Koppert for many years when it comes to using bumblebees for pollination. ‘We already knew that biological protection required a comprehensive approach. We have thoroughly analyzed the life cycle of the pest to ensure that we use nematodes at the best possible time. Together with Thomas Domański, our consultant at Koppert Poland, the University of Life Sciences in Warsaw, and our employees, we carried out research on the effectiveness and development of nematodes in various substrates. Other blueberry producers and crop protection specialists were skeptical about using nematodes, but our patience was rewarded: the biological crop protection gave us great results. And Larvanem was easy to use. Our irrigation system was ready to use nematodes, without modifications.’

The Larvanem nematodes were introduced through the irrigation system at a dosage of 2x500 millions per hectare. ‘Most often, the right moment of application occurs from the middle to the end of July, but every year you have to carefully observe the moment of flight of adult beetles.’

In the first year of application, efficacy of nematodes grew to a level of 70%, and after the second year of use even up to 95%. Such a large reduction of pests has greatly contributed to the condition of the plants. ‘Shrubs which were weak or were dying, started to recover their strength. The leaves regained a dark green colour and the quality of the fruit improved and evened out. We expect good yields in the years to come.’

A major advantage for the customers

Wilczewscy Horticultural Farm exports 95% of its production. As the use of chemicals is under pressure and all biological protection methods are positively perceived by consumers, the biologically protected blueberries are welcomed by customers, says Jerzy Wilczewski. ‘We convinced them at every step in the production process that the quality of our fruit is most important for us. And the natural environment of our farms helps us to avoid using chemical methods.’

The farm has been working with Koppert for many years. This constant cooperation has resulted in a joint search for solutions to problems that appeared on the farm. ‘Together with consultant Tomasz Domański at Koppert Poland, we have developed a method and application deadlines allowing us to achieve a maximum effectiveness of treatments. As a result of our cooperation with Koppert, the plantations are now strong and healthy. Thanks to this, we are optimistic about the future.’

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