Improved tool to help predict blackcurrant gall mite emergence

An interactive tool collating weather data from more than 160 UK locations will help blackcurrant growers more accurately apply control measures for a key pest this season.

Based on a ‘temperature sum’ approach, the tool predicts when gall mites will emerge from buds in spring, the best time to apply plant protection products.

The tool has was piloted in just six locations before widening to 160. This year the tool will also be updated daily instead of weekly, meaning guidance should be more accurate than before.

Gall mites are primarily a pest of blackcurrants. Measuring less than 0.25mm long, they feed and breed within buds causing distinctive bud swelling.

Mites emerge from infected buds in the spring and seek new buds. Infested buds start to swell in summer, but are most obvious in winter.

Bastiaan Brak, research data analyst at AHDB, said: “The AHDB Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus management tool was received really well by arable farmers and agronomists last autumn and it’s great to now offer a similar tool to blackcurrant growers.

“Similar decision support tools for horticulture are in development, demonstrating AHDB’s commitment to integrated pest management.”

How it works

Growers are able to select their closest location on the map and use the graph to find out the best time to apply their first and second sprays.

Forecasting is an important element of integrated pest management, as it can reduce the number of sprays required, saving cost, reducing resistance build up and reducing environmental impact.

Guidance on the exact timing and the choice of control products should be supported by a BASIS qualified fruit consultant.

The tool will be available until May on the AHDB website.