NC State Extension Publications


Caneberries grown in the Southeast are affected by a wide variety of pests that can negatively affect plant health, growth, and yield potential. Minimizing plant loss and maintaining profitable yields require an integrated pest management (IPM) approach that relies on multiple types of pest control tactics. All IPM programs should begin with pest prevention and cultural control.

Cultural control involves modifying the growing environment to reduce unwanted pests. This might include reducing and/or disrupting pest habitats in and around the crop, or altering the management of the crop such as pruning or fertility rates to reduce or disrupt pest habitat.

These tactics, which focus on creating an environment that is unfavorable for pests and pathogen infection, should be on the mind of every grower when establishing new plantings. Nearly every section of the Southeast Regional Caneberry Production Guide provides recommendations for production tactics that help prevent pest issues. See the Southeast Regional Caneberry Integrated Management Guide for more specific recommendations.

Effective pest management in commercial caneberry production also requires the use of pesticide spray programs. While spray programs often differ based on the localized pressure of specific pests, fungicide spray programs will usually be a necessity. Many pathogens can cause disease in blackberry plants that will affect the overall health or quality of berries. Since there is currently no way to detect many of these diseases prior to infection, preventive applications of fungicide are necessary based on the stages of plant growth and weather conditions. In addition, some insect pests, such as the spotted wing drosophila, require an insecticide spray program to achieve acceptable levels of management. Regular field monitoring and proper pest identification will be necessary to determine the appropriate management responses. Spray programs will only be effective and sustainable when paired with cultural control tactics.

When applying pesticides, special attention should be paid to pollinators present in caneberry plantings and to any honeybee hives that have been installed to promote pollination. Most pesticide applications can adversely affect pollinator health. Consider the following precautions when making pesticide applications. Follow all directions and precautions listed on pesticide labels. Minimize infield exposure of bees by applying pesticides in the late afternoon or early evening when the bees are less active. Minimize drift of pesticide applications to bordering habitat, and finally, consider using more selective insecticides that are less toxic to pollinators.

For information about integrated pest management and pollination, see the Southeast Regional Caneberries Integrated Management Guide, located on the Southern Region Small Fruits Consortium’s IPM/Production Guides web page.


Extension Specialist- Horticulture IPM
Cooperative Extension Service, University of Arkansas
Extension Specialist (Small Fruits)
Distinguished Professor, Horticultural Science
Extension Specialist, Associate Professor
Department of Horticulture, University of Arkansas
Extension Assistant
Horticultural Science

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Publication date: Feb. 23, 2023

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