New manoeuvre in Medfly battle

Countryman

The WA fruit industry is stepping up its fight against Mediterranean fruit fly (Medfly) without the use of cover sprays by using an area-wide management strategy.

Department of Agriculture and Food senior researcher Sonya Broughton said Horticulture Australia Ltd had provided funding for the project through Summerfruit Australia and Fruit West.

"Medfly is the most important insect pest for the fruit industry in WA," she said.

"Without access to the traditional insecticides dimethoate and fenthion, which appears imminent, our research indicates that area-wide management is the only strategy in most situations that will enable growers to produce fruit free of Medfly."

Summerfruit Australia chairman and Perth Hills grower Mark Wilkinson said that for the past 50 years growers could go through a whole season controlling Medfly on their own orchards without having a single fruit damaged.

"But from now on, after losing cover sprays, far more effort will be required of the farmer and there will be damage," he said.

"Medfly control on other farms and in backyards many kilometres distant becomes important to me being able to harvest a crop of peaches."

Dr Broughton said the area-wide approach required co-operation between commercial producers, backyard growers in nearby communities and local government. It had been successful in Bindoon, Gingin and Carnarvon as well as overseas.

The new project will involve monitoring and trapping trials at Jarrahdale and Pickering Brook, beginning in September and continuing over the next three years.

A steering committee comprising representatives from the department, local government and the fruit industry will be established.

"As urban gardens and parks can be fruit fly sources as well as commercial orchards, trees in these areas need to be treated," Dr Broughton said. "This used to be organised through community baiting schemes in many country towns but tended to be discontinued when cover spraying was so effective."

Dr Broughton said foliar baiting and new techniques such as mass trapping would be evaluated in the new project in order to provide clear recommendations to the community.

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