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About Ash Sial

Dr. Ash Sial is Associate Professor in Department of Entomology at the University of Georgia. He has had extensive training in agricultural entomology from various institutions. He earned his Ph.D. in Entomology from Washington State University where he worked with apple growers to develop sustainable IPM programs for major pests of tree fruits. After graduation, he accepted a Post-Doctoral Research Scientist position at University of California, Berkeley and worked with winegrape growers to develop sustainable IPM programs aimed at managing exotic and emerging arthropod pests such as vine mealybug, and the diseases transmitted by mealybugs such as grapevine leafroll disease. He then joined Cornell University to investigate various aspects of biology and ecology of an invasive insect pest – spotted wing drosophila, which has recently emerged as a major threat to fruit production in the United States. Currently, he serves as the blueberry entomologist and IPM Coordinator for Georgia. At the University of Georgia, the goals of his research program are to investigate biology and ecology of major arthropod pests of blueberries in order to develop sustainable IPM programs, and disseminate that information to all stakeholders including commercial blueberry producers in a timely and convenient manner. He has published numerous peer-reviewed papers, delivered research and Extension presentations including invited guest lectures and a keynote address. He has also served professional societies including Entomological Society of America (ESA) in a leadership role at the regional and national levels. He has been recognized for excellence in research productivity and professional leadership at the regional and national level with several prestigious awards including the John Henry Comstock Award.

Monitoring and Management of Flower Thrips in Blueberries

Flower thrips are chronic pests of both southern highbush and rabbiteye blueberries in the southeastern United States. Flower thrips are small insects, less than 1.5 mm long (0.06 inches), with slender bodies usually yellow to orange in color. Females are typically larger than males. Adult thrips have long narrow wings fringed with fine hairs. Adults and immatures, called nymphs, have rasping-sucking mouthparts, which they use to extract sap from plant cells. Immatures look like the adults except they are smaller and have no wings.

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Organic SWD Management Webinar

SWD OREI Project Team is scheduled to present a webinar on Organic Management of Spotted-Wing Drosophila (SWD) to provide a comprehensive update on strategies to manage SWD in organic production systems. Please register at: http://eorganic.org/node/34578 to attend this webinar. 

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Postharvest Keeping Quality of Southern Highbush, Rabbiteye, and Northern Highbush Blueberry Cultivars in Cold Storage

Part 1: Fruit Firmness Authors: Rion T. Mooneyham, Savithri U. Nambeesan, and Rachel A. Itle  This article is the first of a series from my master’s research.  Overall, this work is the examination and comparison of fruit quality traits in southern highbush (SHB), rabbiteye (RE), and northern highbush (NHB) cultivars in…
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Fly Infestations in Blueberries

Over the past few days, I have received several calls from Extension Agents about prevalence of soft fruit, vertical fruit split, small berry size and some reports of worms in the fruit. Although it is difficult to determine the exact reasons, the unusual weather patterns we have experienced this year including warm winters, low night-temperatures lingering late in the season, and excessive rain events over the past few weeks may have contributed to these issues. A number rain events during the harvest above all increase the risk of fly infestations in blueberries. Of course, spotted-wing drosophila (SWD) is our Suspect No. 1 and the most common fly pest that can infest berries. Although not as common, blueberry maggot (BBM), is another fly which is a quarantine pest and can infest berries during similar weather conditions. It is also quite possible that both SWD and BBM infestations may be present in the same field. In that case, correct identification is critical before implementing management strategies.

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