Avocado Industry Gets Pest Update at Recent Meeting

Brian GermanIndustry, Pest Update

Approximately 64 growers, Pest Control Advisors and other stakeholders in the avocado industry recently attended the Avocado Pest Management Round Table grower meeting that was held in Fallbrook on September 28.  The meeting was put on by the University of California Cooperative Extension and organized by Sonia Rios, a Subtropical Horticulture Farm Advisor for Riverside and San Diego Counties.

The meeting consisted of two roundtable discussions that growers were allowed to participate in.  The first one centered on historical challenges with pest management such as pesticide resistance, along with new potential solutions that may help solve some of those issues.  Assistant Researcher of Entomology at UC Riverside Frank Byrne, discussed materials currently registered to use against avocado thrips and how to develop a strategy to avoid developing resistance to those products.

Research Program Director at the California Avocado Commission Tim Spann gave a presentation on Redbay Ambrosia Beetle and Laurel Wilt Disease.  So far, the lethal disease has not made its way into California yet, but Spann offered a reminder of the danger the disease presents and what growers need to watch out for.

The other roundtable discussion focused on the types of new challenges the avocado industry is facing.  Kevin Turner from CAL FIRE discussed how the Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer (PSHB) is not only a concern for the avocado industry but is also causing significant damage to native plants in California, which is having a negative impact on the wildlife.  Mary Lu Arpaia, a Subtropical Horticulturist with UC Riverside, shared some of her experience with the pest when she visited Israel and saw the damage caused there.

Many growers had questions about weed management in which Rios was able to provide information on the proper use of herbicide, along with the most effective methods of using mulch.  However, much of the concern coming from growers was directed at PSHB.