Caltec Shares Innovative Pest Control Practices

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.

Rudy Monnich with Caltec

“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.

New Website Launched to Promote Yes Vote on Pierce’s Disease Referendum

Pierce’s Disease Website to Help Inform Winegrape Grower/Vintner Community

Winegrape growers and vintners anxious to better understand why their “yes” votes are needed for the upcoming Pierce’s Disease / glassy-winged sharpshooter (PD/GWSS) Referendum can now turn to a new comprehensive website:

Designed and launched by a coalition of the California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG), Family Winemakers of California and Wine Institute, the new site provides in-depth analysis of the PD Referendum and the critical work the assessment has supported since 2001.

Up-to-date information on a variety of aspects concerning the PD Referendum can be found on the site, including voting procedures, facts about PD and GWSS, statistics on expenditures, the latest news and links to other sites with information on the PD/GWSS threat.

With passage of the last referendum in 2010, the PD/GWSS Board was given the authority to designate other pests and diseases detrimental to winegrapes for research funding. Since then the Board has designated the European grapevine moth (EGVM), red blotch (GRBaV), vine mealybug (VMB) and  (BMSB) as serious threats to winegrapes.

“Through the industry supported Pierce’s Disease Control Program, we helped stop the spread of PD and soon commercial nurseries will have access to a variety of PD-resistant winegrapes–none of which would be possible without the PD assessment,” said CAWG President John Aguirre. “The program is operating at the lowest assessment rate since its inception; yet it continues to deliver tremendous value.”

Ballots for the vote on the PD Referendum will be sent out the week of March 30th. It’s important that every winegrape grower return his/her ballots no later than April 18th.

At least 40 percent of eligible growers must cast ballots to validate the referendum. Passage requires either: a “yes” vote by 65 percent of those voting who represent the majority of the assessment that was paid in 2014; or a “yes” vote by a majority of those voting who represent 65 percent or more of the assessment that was paid in 2014.

CDFA Announces Dates for PD/GWSS Winegrape Grower Referendum

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has announced important dates for this year’s vote on the continuation of the statewide Pierce’s Disease and Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter (PD/GWSS) winegrape assessment.

Current plans call for the ballots to be mailed to California’s winegrape growers on or about March 30, 2015. The ballots will be due back 30 days after mailing, although this date can be extended. The results of the vote will be announced about two weeks after the voting period concludes.

Since 2001, the PD/GWSS assessment has been one of the primary sources of funding for research on PD and its primary vector, the glassy-winged sharpshooter. In 2010 winegrape growers voted to not only continue the assessment but authorized the PD/GWSS Board to spend assessment funds for research and outreach on other pests and diseases that are serious threats to California winegrapes. Since then, the Board has designated the European grapevine moth, red blotch, vine mealybug, and brown marmorated stink bug as serious threats to winegrapes.

Growers (whether individuals or companies) who paid the assessment on grapes grown in 2014 are eligible to vote. Accordingly, growers will receive a ballot for each of the separate legal entities they represent.  Growers are urged to verify that the number of ballots they receive is correct and report any discrepancies to CDFA. Winegrape growers with any questions about the assessment can contact the CDFA Pierce’s Disease Control Program at (916) 900-5024. Questions about the referendum (including the number of ballots you received) should be directed to the CDFA Marketing Branch at (916) 900-5018.

The PD/GWSS winegrape assessment was established in July 2001 to support scientific research to find solutions to Pierce’s disease. The PD/GWSS Board, composed of winegrape growers, advises CDFA on the use of the assessment.

Pierce’s disease has no known cure and, left unchecked, could be devastating to the winegrape industry. A study released in 2009 by the Wine Institute and the California Association of Winegrape Growers estimated the total annual economic impact of California’s winegrape industry at $62 billion within the state and $122 billion nationally.