(Nov. 17) Washington apple exporters hope to avoid the strikeout pitch for their apple shipping season to Taiwan, but it won’t be easy.

Operating under a “three strikes” protocol, Washington exporters learned in mid-November that Taiwanese inspectors had already reported the second discovery of codling moth larvae in Washington apples in the 2006-07 season.

Washington apple shippers also faced the possibility of losing the market in 2005.

“We went through all last year without the third strike,” said Mike Willet, vice president of scientific affairs for the Yakima, Wash.-based Northwest Horticultural Council.

Industry official are urging exporters to take all precautions to prevent a possible third codling moth larvae discovery.

Rebecca Baerveldt, export marketing manager for the Washington Apple Commission, Wenatchee, said season-to-date shipments of Washington apples to Taiwan as of the first of November were down about 462,000 cartons from last season’s pace.

“Last year the second codling moth find was earlier so people really started to load for export to Taiwan,” she said.

The terms of the agreement between Taiwan and the U.S. state that all apples en route to Taiwan can still proceed to the market if a third find of codling moth is discovered.