A New Approach to Managing Vine Mealybug
By Hannah Young, Contributing Editor
Some innovative pest and disease control products, such as heat application to kill insects, are making their way to the market, according to Caltec.
California Ag Today spoke with Rudy Monnich, president of Caltec Ag, about some of the new ways California farmers are fighting pests.
“We have a product which is the diatomaceous earth that controls vine mealybugs and ants and mites in orchards and vineyards,” Monnich said, adding, “There is nothing more damaging than vine mealybug. In fact, Monterey County is forming a committee to be zero tolerant just for that insect pressure.”
The product is silica dioxide and will scarify the body of insects, dehydrate them, and in result kill them off in three or four days, Monnich explained.
However, the product is not a chemical, but a mineral, which significantly diminishes resistance issues.
“You don’t have the resistant issues build up,” Monnich said. “It’s also controlling thrip and whitefly in tomatoes.”
Caltec introduced the product this past spring.
Heat application can also be used by growers to combat insect problems.
“We are working with the Agrothermal people who have a machine that 300-degree to 400-degree temperatures will annihilate soft-bodied insects in tomatoes and powdery mildew in grapes,” Monnich said.
The application of heat kills the spores before signs of damage appear on the plant, Monnich explained.
This method of pest control is increasing the quality of wine, Monnich concluded.