Ag Officials Prepare to Fight Grape Moth in Fresno County

FRESNO, Calif.

The moth is known as a destructive grape-gobbling pest. It has already caused four wine country counties to be placed on quarantine.

Grapes represent Fresno County's top crop, worth over $723 million. Experts say quick action is needed to limit the spread of a devastating pest.

Over five-thousand traps were set in Fresno County for EGVM - European Grapevine Moth. Inspectors recently found three of the moths.

Jerry Rebensdorf, President of the Fresno Raisin Co-op, said, "Well the main thing is we need to control it right away while the population is still small."

Rebensdorf's Thompson grapes must first bloom before they form the bunches which will eventually become raisins at the end of summer. He hoped grapevine moths would never make their way to the Valley.

Rebensdorf said, "If I understand it right, they bore a little hole in the grape and once the grape starts putting on the sugar, the juice will start running out."

California Grape and Treefruit League President Barry Bedwell said, "We caught this pest. We hope it's an aberration."

Bedwell called the eradication potential of the grapevine moth very high. Bedwell explained, "This is a pest that can be treated with conventional and reduced risk pesticide as well as organic products."

State Ag Secretary A.G. Kawamura called the European grapevine moth a significant pest. He said, "There's been a few finds in Fresno County. What's nice is it looks like and appears that it's an early infestation. Let's hope it's 'outly,' escapees that came out."

It's impossible to know exactly how the moth reached the valley though Rebensdorf has a theory. He believes, "It probably came down on either a load of grapes that might have come down to the valley or harvesters."

Inspectors will expand trapping perimeters. On Wednesday Fresno County Ag Commissioner Carol Hafner is expected to outline the plan to fight the pest.

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