AM Live Ag Report

FRESNO, Calif. West side farmers will have to wait another week before they know how much water they'll get to irrigate crops.

A decision was supposed to be made Wednesday, but Federal Judge Oliver Wanger delayed the decision until next Tuesday. Wanger ruled earlier this week federal agencies did not follow the law when it came to protecting salmon in the delta.

Farmers and water contractors filed an injunction so that they can pump more water. But environmental groups and fisherman claim the injunction would threaten spring-run salmon in the Valley.

A sizeable chunk of Fresno County farmland is now under quarantine because of a destructive pest that could cost local growers millions.

State agriculture officials found the European Grapevine Moth in Fresno County for the first time earlier this month. At least 92-square miles are now under quarantine bordered by Highway 99, Manning, Academy and Olive.

This little moth is a threat to crops, so getting rid of it is a priority. But even without crop damage it's going to be a major expense to growers.

Manuel Cunha of the Nisei Farmers League says the European Grapevine Moth is a real threat to crops.

"This is a grape bunch and this grape bunch has just flowered and getting ready to set the berry and this is what the moth goes after."

This is what a mature grape bunch looks like after the moth's larvae, which are laid in the grapes get through with it.

But the immediate problem facing growers, who came together at the Kearney Ag Center in Parlier is what government restrictions to control the moth, will do to their business.

"Right now the real issue for us is going to be the quarantine area," said Manuel Cunha.

The moth doesn't just go for grapes, but olives, peaches, plums, cherries...and other fruits. That means everything grown in the 92 square mile quarantine must be treated and inspected before it can be sold.

The real danger is that any quarantine could impact grapes and other fruit exported to other countries from throughout the entire county.

"Some foreign states like Mexico may not buy anything from Fresno County right now because it's from the quarantine area in Fresno County, they don't want to deal," said Cunha.

To deal with the moths, growers will have to spray pesticides and take other measures to eradicate the moth as quickly as possible. But because of the moth's life cycle, it will take at least one year until the quarantine is lifted.

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