Ag officials detail Fresno County crop quarantine

FRESNO, Calif.

The quarantined area spans 92 square miles and is bordered by Highway 99, Manning, Academy and Olive. The moth is capable of devastating Fresno County's number-one crop - grapes.

On Wednesday the Ag Department held its first grower meeting on the invasive pest. The overflow crowd let you know how big a concern the /*European Grapevine Moth*/ has become. It was standing room only at the UC Kearney Ag Center in Parlier.

Farmers learned which pesticides are most effective against the moth. "Plus all this paperwork we have to go through to be able to move the fruit after its harvested," explained Sanger Grower Marvin Caprelian.

Growers in the quarantined area must sign compliance agreements before any produce is moved out of the area. Inspectors are keeping a close eye on grape vineyards.

California Department of Food and Ag Pest Exclusion Chief Nick Condos said, "The table grape growers will have to fumigate their commodity, most likely with methyl bromide right now, in order to move it out of the quarantined area."

But the moth also feeds on many other crops grown in the quarantined area. Stone fruit growers must contact the Fresno County Ag Commissioner's office before harvest.

Deputy Ag Commissioner Tye Hafner said, "We inspect the field and we cut a number of fruit in the field to confirm it's free of lobesia."

Lobesia botrana is the scientific name of the pest eating into farmers' profits. Farmer Jose Negrete said the moth is causing a "big concern because it's money, expenses. Like a big issue on timing."

The quarantine will remain in place until the European Grapevine Moth stops showing up in the over five-thousand traps set in Fresno County.

Condos said, "Since this bug has three life cycles per year we're looking at least a year before the quarantine would be lifted."

Tye Hafner said the Ag Department has focused its efforts on a specific area - bounded by Temperance to the west, Leonard to the east, American to the south and North Avenue to try to keep the moth from spreading any further.

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