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Moths in traps prompt quarantine

The quarantine was implemented after two European grapevine moths were trapped within 3 miles of each other April 28 in southwest Fresno. Three more were trapped southwest of Sanger in the Del Ray area, and one was trapped near Kingsburg, bringing the total to six.

For the quarantine to be removed, traps must not pick another moth during the time it takes three generations to develop.

That means that the soonest the quarantine could be lifted is May 3, 2011. If a trap within the quarantine area picks up another moth or if one larva or egg is found, then the year countdown begins all over.

The initial moths were picked up as part of routine statewide trapping begun by the California Department of Food and Agriculture after an infestation was found in September 2009 near Oakville in Napa County.

Since then, more than 75,300 moths have been trapped in Napa County. In addition, seven moths have been trapped in Solano County, 25 in Sonoma County, 29 in Mendocino County, four in Merced County and one in Monterey County near Soledad.

For maps of the quarantine areas, visit

The moth is not a strong flier. In most cases, it is spread as eggs, larvae or pupae that hitchhike on equipment, packing bins, plant material or grape stakes.

The USDA continues to investigate the source of the Fresno County infestation. Wright says investigators are fairly sure how it arrived in the county, but she wouldn’t elaborate.

Many growers say they know the source—infested grape stakes that were bought from Napa County.

Quarantine restrictions

The quarantine designation doesn’t necessarily prevent movement of fruit and plant material within the 96-square-mile area or to a facility outside the area.

What it does is require that anybody who does move fruit or plant material follow a strict set of rules. They also must sign a compliance agreement that says they will do so. That includes growers, harvest crews, processors and packinghouses.

CDFA and USDA officials are still finalizing protocols for movement of much of the host material.

At recent grower meetings in Fresno County, they outlined the general rules that anybody handling host materials originating from the quarantine area will have to follow.

• Bulk grapes going for crush will have to be covered, tarped or transported in an enclosed container.

• Table grapes most likely will have to undergo a post-harvest treatment.
• Raisin protocols are still under review

• Fresh fruit other than grapes will have to undergo an inspection no later than 30 days before harvest. Fruit bins also must be covered, tarped or transported in enclosed containers. Growers are encouraged to call the local CDFA office five to seven days before harvest to schedule an inspection.

• Nursery stock will have to be inspected every 30 days and treated with an ovicide/larvicide. Olive and grape plants will have to be free of flowers and fruit.

• State and federal officials are still debating how to handle green waste, which includes culls.

If receivers are outside the area but handle fruit from the quarantine area—such as a packinghouse or winery—they, too, must follow rules and sign a compliance agreement.

Quarantine costs add up

In addition to being a grower, Nilmeier custom harvests grapes, owns a trucking company and hauls fruit, and runs a fruit drier—all within the quarantine area. That means he’ll have to sign compliance agreements as a grower, harvester, hauler and a receiver.

Already, he’s figured out a netted tarp that he can use to cover the tandem trailers that haul grapes to wineries for crushing.
Each set costs him about $700 to $750 in materials to build at his farm shop. He has four sets.

If he were to have them made, he says they’d run about $3,500 per set.

Nilmeier already has begun stone fruit harvest and is using a refrigerated truck to haul the fruit to the packinghouse.

“It’s cool right now, but once it gets back into the high 80s and you put tarps on that, it’s hard on the stone fruit,” he says.

The refrigerated truck also helps reduce the field heat in the fruit. But Nilmeier says it will cost him an additional $150 to $200 per load to do so.

“I don’t know what the packinghouse costs are,” he says. “They have to keep it segregated during packing and keep it segregated in cold storage. None of that fruit can be comingled.”