AG Watch

Moth threatens Fresno County grape and fruit crops

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The European Grapevine Moth has been found in Fresno County. The pest lays its eggs in the tiny, newly emerging grape berries. The larvae grow with the grape, eating it from the inside out. Each moth lays dozens of eggs, one on each grape, destroying entire bunches. But while these pests can eventually damage a whole crop, the steps necessary to stop the moth's from spreading cause an immediate problem.

Manuel Cunha of the Nisei Farmers League said, "Right now the real issue for us is going to be the quarantine area."

Grapes and other fruit crops in the 92 square mile area must be sprayed with additional pesticides, then monitored and inspected before they can be transported or marketed. At least eight hundred growers, along with packers and processors will be impacted. There's also concerned the quarantine will damage the image of all of Fresno County's crop production, and cause foreign buyers to look elsewhere.

"Some foreign states like Mexico may not buy anything from Fresno County right now because it's from the quarantine area in Fresno County, they don't want to deal," said Cunha.

Cunha says only two moths have been found in the affected area so far. Hundreds of traps have been placed to see if there are more moths in the area. Even if none are found the quarantine could last at least a year because of the moth's lifecycle.

Cunha says moths have been found in Merced County as well. The moth is common in the wine grape regions of Napa and Sonoma counties, but is also attracted to many of the more than three hundred different crops grown in Fresno County.

The moth doesn't just go for grapes, but olives, peaches, plums, cherries ... and other fruits. That means everything grown in the 92 square mile quarantine must be treated and inspected before it can be sold.

Deputy Ag Commissioner, Tye Hafner said, "We believe eight hundred growers within the quarantine will be affected others impacted."

But the real danger is that any quarantine could impact grapes and other fruit exported to other countries from throughout the entire county.

At least 92-square miles are now under quarantine -- bordered by Highway 99, Manning, Academy and Olive.

To deal with the moths, growers will have to spray pesticides and take other measures to eradicate the moth as quickly as possible. But because of the moth's life cycle, it will take at least one year until the quarantine is lifted.

(Copyright ©2014 KFSN-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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fresno county, agriculture, ag watch, dale yurong
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