How to Deal With Thrips on Stone Fruit

thrip damage on nectarine

Research hint: when you have a pest problem on an edible plant, Google the name of the plant and “UC Davis.” What comes up is UC Davis’ handy Integrated Pest Management info sheets, evidenced based information on all kinds of problems. This is how I figured out that a small insect called the western flower thrip (Frankliniella occidentalis), was noshing on our nectarines.

Thrips damage the fruit when it is small. The scars enlarge as the fruit matures.

How do you manage thrips? UC Davis notes:

Western flower thrips overwinter as adults in weeds, grasses, alfalfa, and other hosts, either in the orchard floor or nearby. In early spring, if overwintering sites are disturbed or dry up, thrips migrate to flowering trees and plants and deposit eggs in the tender portions of the host plant, e.g. shoots, buds, and flower parts.

Thrips are often attracted to weeds blooming on the orchard floor. To prevent driving thrips into the trees, do not disc the cover crop when trees are in bloom. Open, weedy land adjacent to orchards should be disced as early as possible to prevent thrips development and migration of adults into orchards.

It was an exceptionally dry year which may have contributed to our thrip problem.  And perhaps some mulch and weeding around the base of the tree is in order. UC Davis goes on to suggest monitoring methods as well as organic controls if that’s your cup of tea.

The scarred fruit gets rotten on the tree and is unappetizing. We did get some unblemished fruit, but there was enough of a thrip problem to warrant monitoring next year.

Did you have thrip problems this season?

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  1. Chickens under fruit trees are a great strategy. An organic apple grower in the Thumb of MI used pigs to clean up June-drop apples and dramatically reduce the infection rate of plum curculio.
    Arden Andersen, in The Anatomy of Life and Energy in Agricuture, links just about all insect problems to deficiencies of calcium or phosphorus. Add mulch with egg shells, and feed your soil fungi so they can help cycle the calcium. That’s the theory anyway!

  2. So THAT is what happened to my nectarines! Apparently, I have a thrip problem in the orchard. I’ll know the control for next year – right now, the fruit is ugly as all get out, but are still ripening so I’m hoping for some sort of crop. This tree is one I’m trying to save and make healthy again (new-to-us house, with small orchard in the back). Thanks for the info!

  3. How about neem oil sprays in the dormant period? michael phillips’ “the holistic orchard” recommends an number of organic spray cocktails… but i do like the incorporation of chickens and pigs!! and egg shells in the mulch! how’s that for closed system small scale food production! awesome.

  4. Pingback: Hens in the Orchard for Pest Control | Root Simple

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