More Efficient Mating Disruption Reduces Insecticide Use, Saves Costs

The Issue

To control codling moth in pear orchards, the primary alternative to organophosphate (OP) insecticide is pheromone mating disruption (MD). This technique is currently used in nearly all pear orchards in California. But there are problems with traditional pheromone dispensers: (1) unreliable emission rates, especially in the spring and (2) need for labor. These problems have been particularly acute on the North Coast with its cold springs and higher labor costs. A more efficient and reliable alternative to OPs for codling moth control has been needed.

What Has ANR Done?

Starting in 1996, the pear industry supported research on a new emitter, or "puffer," that regulates pheromone emission better and also drastically reduces labor cost. Research was conducted on 160 acres in Lake County from 1996-1998. Based on successful results, in 1999 two large areawide demonstration projects were conducted in Lake County (10 growers, 500 acres) and Mendocino County (five growers, 360 acres). The trials compared MD using puffers to standard insecticide programs and to completely untreated controls. In 2000, the Lake County trial expanded to 820 acres and 10 growers, and in 2001 to 1,350 acres and 19 growers. The projects were sponsored by California Dept. of Pesticide Regulation, USDA Codling Moth Areawide Management Program (CAMP) and the pear industry. Results were extended via weekly faxes to all project participants, at meetings and in numerous trade magazines.

The Payoff

Codling moth has been successfully controlled by puffers

The puffer both successfully controls codling moth and is easy and relatively inexpensive to use. It also has proved to be an ideal tactic for use in areawide MD programs, because as acreage increases the number of needed units/acre decreases. Organophosphate insecticide use for codling moth control has almost entirely ceased in participating orchards. A recently completed UC cost study showed that puffers save $9 per ton or nearly $200 per acre, based on 20 tons per acre. The cost savings came from (1) less insecticide use due to fewer outbreaks of secondary pests such as mites and pear psylla, and (2) less need to operate spray equipment, which is becoming increasingly expensive.

The project received the 2000 IPM Innovator Award from California Department of Pesticide Regulation. The puffer is now commercially available and in use on over 2,000 acres on the North Coast. This success has catalyzed new efforts by other UC and USDA researchers to determine strategies for apples, pears and walnuts.


Supporting Unit: Lake UCCE

Rachel Elkins, County Director, Lake County
Pomology Farm Advisor, Lake and Mendocino Counties
883 Lakeport Blvd., Lakeport, CA 95453