The warm weather is not only heating up the Valley, but also bringing out the European Grapevine Moth — a pest that is destroying grapes all over the state.
Portions of Fresno, Mendocino, Napa, Solano, Sonoma and Merced counties have already started the quarantine process trapping these moths to prevent them from destroying more grapes.
Currently, the moth has not entered into Stanislaus County and officials are hoping the moth will stay clear.
“As of now, the moths are not affecting us,” said Rodger Duncan, farm advisor for the University of California Cooperative Extension. “We are hoping we don’t catch any moths but if we do we will begin the quarantine process.”
North Merced County is the closest the moth has been detected, Duncan said.
“We have set an array of more than 40,000 traps statewide to determine exactly where the infestations exist,” said California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary A.G. Kawamura. “Detecting the pest is an important first step toward controlling it, and quarantines are the next step in the process. These regulations allow us to protect surrounding uninfested areas by preventing movement of the insects on crops, harvesting equipment and related articles.”
To prevent the moths from entering into Stanislaus County, and potentially destroying the 10,000 to 12,000 acres of grapes located in the county, the UC Cooperative Extension is advising everyone to clean their equipment before changing locations.
“The moths can’t fly up and down the state,” Duncan said. “The moths travel from people or equipment.”
The pests are known to damage grapes but have also fed on other crops and plants, according to the CDFA.
Farmers are being asked by the CDFA to not remove the following from their farms: kiwi, European Barberry, Old-Man’s-Beard or Traveler’s Joy, spurge flax, carnation, persimmon, false baby’s breath or white bedstraw, St. John’s wort or Aaron’s beard, European privet, olive, stone fruit such as apricot, cherry, plum, pomegranate, smooth sumac, currant, gooseberry, rosemary, blackberry, dewberry, bladder Campion, red clover, sea squill, grape, and jujube. They may harvest and consume these items on site.
The larvae of the moths are responsible for the damage to the grapes. They feed on the grape bud clusters or flowers and expose the grapes to further damage from fungal development and the grapes rot.
The invasive pests only come out during the warmer months after they hide in protected areas during the winter time.
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