- Fruits: grapes
- Education and Training: demonstration
- Pest Management: biological control, mating disruption
In agriculture, we constantly search for environmentally responsible pest management tools to reduce our reliance on synthetic plant protectants. Implementing natural biocontrol for insect pests is best practiced before resistance to insecticides develops. However, due to lack of experience and increased costs for materials and labor, producers are reluctant to experiment with biocontrol. Leafroll virus is infecting California grapevines at an alarming rate due to an aggressive insect vector, the vine mealybug. Leafroll virus infections reduce crop yield and quality, decrease a vineyard’s lifespan, and make the land less suitable for future grapevine plantings. In Lodi where we have 750 farmers and 100,000 acres of vineyards, it is imperative to demonstrate mealybug biocontrol. We propose “A Collaborative Beneficial Insect and Pheromone Mating Disruption Demonstration Project” where a team of farmers practices cooperative, region-wide mealybug biocontrol. Farmers will use plant protectants which are safe for beneficials, beneficial insect releases, and will apply a blanket of protective pheromone mating disruption across five vineyards. This team of early-adopter farmers will set an example for Lodi by demonstrating the environmental, social, and economic benefits of cooperatively using biocontrol to manage a threatening disease. Our team will host a “Family Field Day” where Lodi’s 750 farmers and their children will be invited to learn about collaborative pheromone mating disruption and participate in a drone beneficial insect release. The challenge of mealybugs and virus, along with farmer experiences using biocontrol during this project, will be explained in an outreach video. The video along with a blog post/newsletter article will be distributed via the Lodi Winegrape Commission’s community of 1,000+ winegrowing professionals. Hopefully after learning about beneficial insects and pheromone mating disruption from this project, other farmers in Lodi will adopt biocontrol tools as part of long-term mealybug and virus management.
Project objectives from proposal:
- To demonstrate collaborative mealybug biocontrol efforts.
- To blanket five vineyards in mating disruption pheromone, reducing mealybug populations as measured by regular trapping and monitoring.
- To support and augment natural populations of beneficial insects which act as predators and parasites to the vine mealybug.
- To produce a fun and educational “Family Field Day” where farmers and their families learn about the importance of mealybug biocontrol.
- To produce and distribute a professional educational outreach video highlighting the challenges growers face while trying to manage vine mealybugs and leafroll virus, along with their collaborative biocontrol management strategy.
- To produce and distribute a blog post/newsletter article to 1000+ winegrowing community members about the project and what was learned.