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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Research Project: Area-wide Pest Management Project for Navel Orangeworm Control in Almonds, Pistachios, and Walnuts

Location: Commodity Protection and Quality Research

2013 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
1. Complete analysis of large-scale field trials focused on new sanitation standards, augmented sanitation, narrow spectrum insecticides mating disruption, in partnership with commercial growers at locations representing the major production counties as well as the diversity of the commercial production systems. 2. Complete identification of the key variables responsible for both consistent control and program failure and analyze the relative importance of these variables using epidemiological/epizootiological statistics. 3. Complete technology transfer to both farm advisers and commodity groups and modify and/or develop educational programs and training materials to instruct growers on the strategies demonstrated in the area-wide proposal.

1b. Approach (from AD-416):
Establish and implement an areawide pest management research and action program for navel orangeworm management which (a) results from a stakeholder partnership and collaboration dedicated to the demonstration and areawide adoption of navel orangeworm control technologies; (b) demonstrates the positive impacts and advantages of such a program through enhanced grower profits, reduced worker risks, an enhanced environment, and a proven superiority of area-wide adoption; and (c) achieves a mature navel orangeworm management system so end-users, consultants and other interested parties will be left with an operation program that will meet the overall goals through its wide-scale adoption. This will require the development of a unified effort between Federal, State, local and private interests, and whose participants will be involved in the program from conception to adoption.

3. Progress Report:
The areawide project to control navel orangeworm in almonds, pistachios and walnuts demonstrated that mating disruption could be used to control navel orangeworm in almonds. Supporting research established that mating disruption did not affect beneficial insects. This project demonstrated the utility of dividing the almond and pistachio growing counties into zones, based on navel orangeworm pressure, and then crafting management strategies unique to each zone. Economic analysis established the cost of controlling this pest and the return to the grower. The project is now ended.

4. Accomplishments
1. Economic analysis of insect control in almond production. The cost of production and return to the grower is dynamic and needs to be determined at intervals. An economic analysis was conducted to determine the cost to the grower and economic benefit of insect control strategies including insecticide use and mating disruption. Current improvements in crop yield were factored into the calculations. This analysis demonstrated the value of the cost of mating disruption to the grower and will help the adoption of this new technology.

2. Mating disruption for control of navel orangeworm. The navel orangeworm, the primary pest of almonds, pistachios and walnuts is currently controlled by insecticides in almonds. This project established that mating disruption in almonds is both effective and economically feasible. During the 5 years of the project, almond acreage using mating disruption increased from approximately 3,000 research acres to 30,000 acres in commercial production. Adoption of this technology is increasing and mating disruption is most effective when neighbors collaborate. Mating disruption decreases insecticide use and increases nut quality.

3. Narrow spectrum insecticides can replace broad spectrum insecticides. For control of navel orangeworm, the primary pest of almonds, pistachios and walnuts, Pyrethroids insecticides are cheap and effective but have a negative impact on the environment because they disrupt beneficial insects. Several new classes of insecticides that are more specific and less disruptive to beneficial insects were demonstrated to be as effective as pyrethroids. These insecticides have adult activity and also kill eggs as effectively as pyrethroid insecticides. Adoption of these insecticides will improve both nut and environmental quality, and promote the export of these commodities.

4. The relationship between navel orangeworm damage and aflatoxin contamination of pistachios was evaluated. The navel orangeworm, the primary pest of tree nuts in California causes damage both by directly feeding on nuts and by facilitating contamination of nuts with aflatoxins. Studies supported by this project established that moths carry the spores of aflatoxin producing fungi on their bodies and can help establish these fungi in the tree canopy. Additional research demonstrated that collecting adult moths and culturing their bodies was an effective method to sample aflatoxin producing fungi. These studies helped establish the benefit of stringent control measures for this moth.

Last Modified: 05/27/2017
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