2016-09-29 / Life in Leelanau

Wasps getting into grapes

Cool weather and rain haven’t put a damper on the ongoing grape harvest, but to some extent a pest problem has.

Nikki Rothwell, Northwest Michigan Horticulture Research Center coordinator, said wasp and bee numbers in vineyards are “super high” this fall.

Wasps are chewing on grapes, puncturing holes in berries and opening the door for fruit flies, Rothwell said.

“There’s a beautiful vintage out there right now, but these wasps are really a pain in the neck,” she said.

Sour rot pathogens can also gain entry through those cracks and wounds.

Growers have had to make harvest decisions accordingly, she said.

“There’s not an easy answer,” said county grape grower Sam Simpson. “We’ve picked a few things earlier than we would have liked to. You can deal with some of the issues in the cellar, but it’s not an easy thing to deal with.”

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