Fight against Grapevine Moth gets million-dollar boost

FRESNO, Calif.

Ag officials say new funding will help protect the top crop in both Fresno County and the state - grapes.

Over seven-thousand traps have been set in Fresno County vineyards. No new finds of the pest have been reported. The moth is smaller than a dime but is a voracious eater.

In Fresno on Wednesday the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service announced it has set aside a million dollars to help Valley growers.

The money will help fund pesticide treatments in Valley vineyards, including those which have been abandoned by landowners.

NRCA State Conservationalist Ed Burton said, "We estimate the cost to this about 208-dollars an acre to interrupt these next two flights, depending on what they're using so we're offering 104-dollars an acre if they put a conservation plan together."

State Food and Ag Secretary A.G. Kawamura said, "These kinds of dollars can really help that they stay small and more importantly, we get to the point where we eliminate them from this area."

Under the program, growers must use environmentally friendly growth regulators. Fresno County Ag Commissioner Carol Hafner explained, "It's not a broad spectrum pesticide where it would wipe out all the natural predators that would be in the area."

A 93-square mile area of Fresno County is under quarantine because of the European Grapevine Moth. Other countries want assurances produce grown here is free of the destructive pest.

USDA State Plant Health Director Helene Wright said, "Obviously there's a lot of fruit that moves from Fresno to Mexico and so we're having ongoing negotiations about that. We also have quite a bit of fruit that moves to Canada."

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