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Pheromone Mating Disruption Reduces Insecticides in Peaches

The Issue

The two key insect pests of cling peaches, oriental fruit moth and peach twig borer, are conventionally controlled with broad-spectrum toxic insecticides. These sprays can create problems such as contamination of surface water due to runoff from orchards, development of pest resistance from overuse, and safety concerns for field-workers and pesticide applicators. Because peaches are one of the top 20 foods consumed by infants and children, eliminating pesticide residues is also an issue.

What Has ANR Done?

In 1987, pheromone mating disruption became available as an alternative to broad-spectrum sprays for controlling oriental fruit moth in peaches. In 1995, the first pheromone product to control peach twig borer became commercially available. However, adoption of these new pest management strategies depended on convincing growers and pest control advisors that the new approaches can control targeted pests and are economically competitive.

Since 1995, on-farm demonstrations by UCCE researchers statewide have implemented pheromone-based integrated pest management programs. Pheromone mating disruption was more recently demonstrated at several farms through the Peach Pest Management Alliance and implemented with Gerber baby food growers. Various strategies have been developed for integrating pheromones with sprays to lower costs while still reducing insecticide use. Economic comparisons have documented cost differences between the conventional and reduced-risk programs.

The Payoff

Less insecticides in the environment

In 2000, the Department of Pesticide Regulation reported 1,468 oriental fruit moth and 79 peach twig borer pheromone applications statewide. In 2003, about one-third of all peach growers in the Sacramento Valley are using some form of pheromone product for these pests. As one result, the possiblity of insecticide residue in peach baby food has been greatly reduced. Cost share funding is available through the Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) for growers using pheromone mating disruption in 2004.

Clientele Testimonial

John Aselage, Research Horticulturalist, Gerber Products Company: "Gerber's West Coast pesticide reduction program has been an outstanding success, surpassing our highest expectations."

Ernie Paschke,NRCS: "The economic data submitted by UCCE comparing mating disruption to conventional sprays was absolutely necessary to get a cost-share program through NRCS EQIP (Environmental Quality Incentives Program) for growers using pheromone mating disruption to manage insect pests."


Supporting Unit: Sutter-Yuba Counties

Janine Hasey, UCCE, 142A Garden Highway, Yuba City, CA 95991 (530) 822-7515 jkhasey@ucdavis.edu