Scientists at Washington State Universitys Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center (TFREC) are working with colleagues at other western universities and the U.S. Department of Agricultures Agricultural Research Service to build on the success of their five-year Codling Moth Areawide Management Programor CAMPwith a second round of research they call Son of CAMP. According to researchers the new approaches being explored could revolutionize orchard pest control techniques while reducing costs for growers.
The codling moth is the key pest that attacks apple and pear crops in all western orchards and even walnut groves in California. Codling moth larvae burrow into the center of the fruit rendering it worthless and traditional pesticide-based control techniques are faced with their own double threat.
First, the codling moth and other pests such as leafrollers and aphids have developed high levels of resistance to the organophosphate and carbamate insecticides traditionally used by orchardists. Additionally, these broad-spectrum pesticides are highly toxic to most natural enemies that can help suppress many orchard pests. Second, the federal Food Quality Protection Act of 1996 and other regulatory actions approved because of environmental and health concerns over pesticide residues are forcing growers to seek other means to control these costly pests.
In 1995, the CAMP program was launched to field test a new approach to controlling the codling moth-mating disruption. Pheromones of the codling moth are put into dispensers that slowly release minute quantities of the attractant over time, disrupting the ability of the male codling moth to locate females and mate.
By any measure the program has been a success. When it started in 1995, the CAMP research program targeted five growing areas comprising 3,110 acres and involving 66 growers. Thanks to additional grant funding, by 1999, the program expanded to 4,815 acres involving 109 growers, and met its target of reducing broad-spectrum insecticide use by 75 percent.
The mating disruption approach pioneered by WSUs Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center was used on an estimated 85,000 acres, or 45 percent of Washington State orchards in 2000. About 40 percent of the apple and tree orchards in the western United States are now using the approach.
The success story with mating disruption techniques is only partially complete, said WSU entomologist Dr. Jay Brunner, director of TFREC. Thats why weve undertaken the next level of research under Son of CAMP.
Although the codling moth mating disruption technique is widely used throughout the West, most orchards require one or two supplemental treatments of insecticide to adequately control the pest. Besides killing the natural predators of the codling moth and other pests, it is highly likely that regulations will eliminate or severely restrict pesticides used for supplemental control in coming years.
Son of CAMP is looking at refining techniques and expanding the use of the mating disruption to 75 percent of the apple and pear orchards in Washington, Oregon and California, and extending its use to 25 percent of the walnut acreage that is primarily in California. The research will also look at applying mating disruption approaches to other pests and will explore other non-pesticide techniques to managing specific pest populations.
One of the key goals of the project is to create an educational plan to help growers implement and sustain these new approaches throughout western orchards.
Most importantly, this project is developing the knowledge base that will allow growers and crop consultants to implement the best practices for their particular situations and increase their understanding of these approaches, Brunner said. This represents a significant transformation in management practices and it comes at a time when the industry is already under economic stress.
Our overall goal is to implement programs that are effective while helping U.S. growers reduce costs and meet political and environmental mandates in order to remain competitive in the global economy.