Skip to main content
ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Parlier, California » San Joaquin Valley Agricultural Sciences Center » Commodity Protection and Quality Research » Research » Research Project #439518

Research Project: Improved Systems-based Approaches that Maintain Commodity Quality and Control of Arthropod Pests Important to U.S. Agricultural Production, Trade and Quarantine

Location: Commodity Protection and Quality Research

Project Number: 2034-43000-043-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Dec 7, 2020
End Date: Dec 6, 2025

The long-term objective of this project is to improve the quality of specialty crops grown in the western U.S. and increase their domestic consumption and export. All three objectives represent multiple, integrated issues focused on reducing insect damage, maintaining or improving quality and ensuring that exported commodities meet all phytosanitary requirements. Project integration will facilitate successful implementation of systems-based control strategies into current crop production systems, delay the development of resistance to chemicals used for control or disinfestation, overcome trade barriers for the export of fresh fruits and nuts, and minimize deleterious effects of these chemicals on the environment. Objective 1: Develop new or improved preharvest processes that are acceptable to industry and regulatory partners that reduce the incidence of pests in fresh and durable commodities prior to harvest. Sub-objective 1A: Improve current integrated pest management strategies for control of navel orangeworm (NOW) in order to reduce damage and minimize nontarget impacts on environmental quality. Sub-objective 1B: Reduce NOW damage to almond and pistachio orchards by characterizing the environmental and host factors associated with high NOW damage to orchards and develop strategies to eliminate them or mitigate their impact. Sub-objective 1C: Minimize chemical treatment requirements by characterizing and optimizing integrated pest management strategies for monitoring and control of key dipteran and lepidopteran pests. Sub-objective 1D: Improved management of pests of high-value commodities through generation of molecular resources and development of genomics-based approaches. Objective 2: Develop new or improved postharvest processes for the control of arthropod pests, such as handling procedures and treatments, that contribute to food security and food safety while maintaining commodity quality. Sub-objective 2A: Improve semiochemical-based strategies for control of stored product insect pests. Sub-objective 2B: Develop novel postharvest treatments for fresh and durable commodities that maintain or improve commodity quality while protecting the commodity against arthropod pests. Sub-objective 2C: Improve the sustainability of methyl bromide alternatives using molecular toxicology approaches to understand pest physiology, in the context of emergence of insecticide resistance. Objective 3: Ensure that new treatments comply with environmental, human health, sanitary, and phytosanitary regulations, including local, state, national, and international regulations. Sub-objective 3A: Develop treatments for action agencies and industry that satisfy the regulatory requirements of the exporter and importer, ensuring that technology implementation results in market retention or expansion. Sub-objective 3B: Identify agrochemical use strategies and develop novel technologies to ensure residues are compliant with importer and domestic food tolerances. Sub-objective 3C: Develop technologies that reduce or eliminate atmospheric emissions during ventilation of postharvest fumigations to address air quality criteria.

This project has one overarching theme, maintaining or improving the quality of west coast horticultural commodities in order to maintain or expand market share, by improving existing systems approaches and developing new ones. This complex project contains three objectives, 10 sub-objectives, and 13 research goals. The research focus of Objective 1 is preharvest, and three sub-objectives and four research goals target the navel orangeworm (NOW), the primary moth pest of California tree nuts. Research will evaluate the feasibility of a nonchemical alternative, sterile insect technique and facilitate the integration of another nonchemical technique, mating disruption, into existing management programs. These programs will be improved by enhancing the efficacy of existing insecticides through changes in timing and improvements in coverage, as well as recognizing orchards at increased risk for damage. The final NOW sub-objective determines the feasibility of using RNAi-mediated reduction in target gene expression to improve its control, as well as that of citrus red scale. The final sub-objective in Objective 1 seeks to improve the monitoring and control of dipteran pests such as the spotted wing drosophila, the Mediterranean fruit fly, and the melon fly, by improving existing attractants and developing new ones. The research focus of Objective 2 is improved control of coleopteran and lepidopteran pests of fresh and durable commodities in storage. It contains three sub-objectives and four research goals. The first sub-objective and two research goals are far ranging and involve novel methods to synthesize semiochemicals and develop new methods to dispense them. Additional studies seek to improve mating disruption using the same semiochemicals for both disruption and detection. The final two sub-objectives and two research goals are independent but related to one another. One sub-objective is quite broad; developing novel postharvest treatments for fresh and durable commodities. The control methods assessed include low oxygen controlled atmosphere, cyanide, sulfuryl fluoride, phosphine, and ethyl formate, alone and in combination, as well as irradiation. The focus of the final sub-objective is to identify the insect genes responsible for both ethyl formate toxicity and the combination of ethyl formate and CO2 used as an additive, in brown marmorated stinkbug, in order to improve control. The research focus of Objective 3, which contains three sub-objectives and four research goals, is to ensure that the techniques and technologies developed in the earlier objectives can be adopted. The first sub-objective and research goal ensures that treatments developed for lepidopteran and dipteran pests are in compliance with all pertinent regulations. The second sub-objective and two research goals focuses on generating efficacy and residue data to support the use of ethyl formate and sulfuryl fluoride as substitutes for methyl bromide. The final sub-objective and research goal focuses on developing recapture technologies to reduce or eliminate fumigant emissions into the atmosphere.