For the first time since the pest was discovered in the San Francisco Bay area in February 2007, the California Department of Food and Agriculture has expanded the light brown apple moth quarantine into a portion of the San Joaquin Valley, the state’s largest fruit producing area.
The new quarantine boundaries include 18 square miles in and around Manteca, Calif.
“The quarantine area is primarily the city of Manteca, but that’s within ten miles of commercial apple orchards,” said Alex Ott, president of the California Apple Commission, Fresno.
There are no reports the moth has been trapped in any of the Manteca area orchards, he said.
The timing is unfortunate for the state’s apple industry. The gala harvest is at its peak, Ott said. Picking of granny smiths, California's No. 1 apple variety, is expected to begin about the end of August, with the fuji and braeburn harvests scheduled to begin in early September.
The Apple Commission was working to determine what effect, if any, the expanded quarantine boundaries would have on the shipping of the crops, Ott said.
The state agency has established new and expanded boundaries elsewhere in the state, and preparations are under way to impose quarantines on the central California Coast and in Los Angeles County, said Steve Lyle, director of public affairs for the department.
The other new areas include 16 square miles in and around the Monterey County community of Gonzales, at the southern end of the Salinas Valley, and 15 square miles in the Fairfield area of Solano County, which is northeast of San Francisco, he said. An additional 12 square miles was added to the quarantine boundaries in the Hollister area of San Benito County as was 32 square miles in parts of Contra Costa County in the East Bay.
The quarantine boundaries now blanket nearly 3,500 square miles of California, and that figure will soon increase. As a result of new apple moth trappings, quarantines are about to be established in the Long Beach area of Southern California and in San Luis Obispo County on the California coast, Lyle said.
The light brown apple moth infestation has grown in density and range this year, the release said, and more than 110,000 moths have been trapped since the pest was first discovered in the state. That the insect has been found in the San Joaquin Valley is of concern to state officials, Lyle said. However the new and expanded quarantine areas are not the result of major infestations. Just a few of the insects were found in the traps, Lyle said.
The quarantine prohibits the shipping of uninspected fruit from inside the boundaries to customers in non-quarantine areas. In addition to commercial growers, it applies to plant nurseries, cut flowers, and all home grown host fruits and vegetables and to gardeners who may not transport yard waste outside of the boundaries.
Maps of the quarantine zones are available at: http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/phpps/PDEP/lbam/quarantine.html.