Urban grape growers asked to surrender crop

In an effort to keep the European grapevine moth (EGVM) from establishing a long-term foothold in Napa County, Agricultural Commissioner Dave Whitmer is asking urban grape growers, including homeowners with a small number of vines and casual growers, to remove the fruit from the vines and dispose of it with yard waste.

About 40,000 post cards with the headline “Kick the Moth Out!” are being mailed to county residents the week of July 26 with more information about the moth.

“The entire agricultural and viticultural community in Napa County is working together to fight this invasive pest,” Whitmer said.

“Vineyard managers, winery viticulturists, and Napa County growers whose livelihoods depend on harvesting their grapes have been treating for the moth with very selective larvicides and using a cutting edge practice called mating disruption, which uses the moth’s own pheromone to disrupt the insect life cycle.”

“These practices, adapted from science used to combat this pest in other regions of the world, have been employed by local grape growers for the past few months and we are encouraged by the results,” Whitmer said.

“However, those efforts could be undone by moths that have infiltrated urban area grapevines. I am asking folks who grow grapes but are not dependent on the harvest to please strip the fruit for this year, which is a very sustainable way to ensure the interruption of the moth’s life cycle.”

The EGVM was first discovered in Napa County in late 2009. This was the first time the moth was found in the United States.

In other grape-growing regions, including France, Italy and Chile, the moth has become well established and requires vigorous attention and ongoing costs to keep it under control.

The moth focuses on the flowers and the fruit of grapes and causes significant damages if left unchecked.

For more information, visit the Napa County Web site at www.countyofnapa.org or call (866) BUGSPOT.

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