"They are one of my favorite crops here," Bob Douglas said. "Between that and the sweet cherries. I mean, they are not as common."
Fourth-generation farmer Bob Douglas owns the Douglas Orchard with his brother, Scott. Although apples are their big ticket item, he says he has always loved growing raspberries. But the brothers received some bad news last year.
"One of our neighbors picked some berries and they got them out and said, 'You have a problem here!' And yeah, we definitely do," Douglas said.
A new invasive species, the spotted-wing drosophila, has been buzzing through the nation since 2008. And last year, it made its way to Vermont. These Asian fruit flies will wreak havoc on soft fruits, especially raspberries.
"Last year, we weren't prepared for it at all. We didn't know it was coming," Douglas said. "And it pretty well totaled the crop by the time we found it was there. It was too late."
And this year, the flies are back and the damage is even greater. Of the half acre of red, plump raspberries, Douglas estimates up to 80 percent of the berries are destroyed. The flies will lay larvae in the fruit, and once hatched, will turn the insides into mush.
Douglas says a good raspberry will come clean off its stem. So, when a berry is picked and leaves behind a red juice, he already knows the berry is bad.
Douglas says this year, they tried preparing for the flies. He says they spent thousands in spraying and reconfiguring the bushes, but it didn't work. Douglas says even though berries are a side crop to their apples, he isn't sure how much longer they can take the pests.
"Next year, we are going to try thinning the plants more, so the spray will penetrate through them more. But every time you do that, it's more labor and more money. And three strikes we are probably out if it doesn't work next year," Douglas said.
Although the raspberries look succulent and sweet this year, he hopes they can find a way to finally eat them, next year.
Tuesday, March 11 2014 9:45 AM EDT2014-03-11 13:45:09 GMT
A Winooski man says he was held at knife point on Church Street in Burlington Monday afternoon as robbers took nearly 300 dollars from him. Police arrested 29-year-olds Andre Martel and Anthony HammondMore >>
A Winooski man says he was held at knife point on Church Street Monday afternoon as robbers took nearly $300 from him.More >>
Tuesday, March 11 2014 9:21 AM EDT2014-03-11 13:21:26 GMT
A South Londonderry man captured at the end of a high-speed chase now faces up to life in prison. Police say Christopher Bush topped speeds of 100-miles-per-hour in a stolen SUV. The 27 year old pleadedMore >>
A South Londonderry man captured at the end of a high-speed chase now faces up to life in prison.More >>
Tuesday, March 11 2014 9:32 AM EDT2014-03-11 13:32:49 GMT
Police say an 11-year-old girl was walking from the Post Office near Chelsea Street Monday afternoon when an older man started following her. The suspect was in a dirty dark green pickup truck with unknownMore >>
Police say an 11-year-old girl was walking from the Post Office near Chelsea Street Monday afternoon when an older man started following her.More >>
Tuesday, March 11 2014 9:33 AM EDT2014-03-11 13:33:32 GMT
Vermont State Police received two complaints about a man claiming to be an employee with the Bennington County Sheriff's Department. Authorities say the scammer told victims that they had missed juryMore >>
Vermont State Police received two complaints about a man claiming to be an employee with the Bennington County Sheriff's Department.More >>
Tuesday, March 11 2014 9:39 AM EDT2014-03-11 13:39:03 GMT
Burlington area bus drivers did not strike Monday but community members worry that the threat of one, is still very real. Many people spoke out Monday night at the Burlington city council, that they have majorMore >>
Burlington area bus drivers did not strike Monday, but community members worry the threat of a strike is still very real.More >>
Tuesday, March 11 2014 9:40 AM EDT2014-03-11 13:40:43 GMT
An iconic Queen city park could be getting a major makeover. A final design has been approved for renovations on the City Hall Park on College Street. The plans include a performance stage, a new fountain,More >>
A final design has been approved for renovations on Burlington's City Hall Park on College Street.More >>
Tuesday, March 11 2014 9:41 AM EDT2014-03-11 13:41:26 GMT
A solar project is taking off at the Burlington Airport. It comes thanks to a partnership with the Burlington Electric Department. The airport will be installing $1.5 million worth of solar equipment on topMore >>
A solar project is taking off at the Burlington Airport. It comes thanks to a partnership with the Burlington Electric Department.More >>
Tuesday, March 11 2014 9:34 AM EDT2014-03-11 13:34:01 GMT
New leadership is on the way to Goddard College. The board of trustees voted unanimously to hire Robert Kenny as interim president. The native Vermonter is returning to the Plainfield campus after servingMore >>
New leadership is on the way to Goddard College. The board of trustees voted unanimously to hire Robert Kenny as interim president.More >>