The challenges to advance in the control of lobesia

The increase in resources for the control program Lobesia botrana -Also known as a vine moth- that went from $ 3.690 million to about $ 7 billion in 2014 and that rose to $ 9.209 million this year, has not been enough to stop the plague. Although it is still contained, since 96% of the catches are concentrated in the regions of O'Higgins and Maule, the total catches in the country increased 87% in the 2014/2015 season, reaching 762.404 units, the level highest that has been recorded since its arrival in Chile, in 2008.

Even though close to the 40% of that increase would be explained because more traps were installed, the growth is undeniable and has forced the health authorities to make technical adjustments to the control plan, which maintains the central objective of eradicating the moth in some regions and their containment in others.

The new strategy with which the SAG will face the Lobesia increases the use of emitters of sexual confusion in the properties in ten thousand hectares, to reach a total close to 40 thousand hectares, which will cover almost 80% of the areas where there have been detections of the insect; it incorporates a form of work in which the service contributes half of those control tools and the producers the other part; it eliminates seven pesticides until this year authorized, due to the fact that analyzes carried out by the INIA showed a low level of efficacy; and considers making differentiated notifications by zones for the application of chemical products and not a single warning for all regions as was the case until now.

Representatives of the private sector who participate in the technical discussions with the SAG and in the preparation of the program assure that progress is being made in the correct direction, although they criticize that the budget is still insufficient and believe that it is necessary to define a medium-term strategy to plan controls more in advance, without having to «Put out fires«.

On the other hand, some producers and specialists question that eradication should be maintained as one of the goals, since it is something that has not been achieved in any country where Lobesia be present -only in California, USA, they have reduced it to specific outbreaks, but their eradication has not been confirmed- and raise as a pending issue the greater training of technicians and agronomists on the moth to carry out an effective control, since It is a quarantine pest for many of the target markets for Chilean fruit. However, the national director of the program of Lobesia botrana SAG, Grisel Monje, ensures that the figures support maintaining eradication as a goal.

Meanwhile, the national director of the SAG, Ángel Sartori, emphasizes that although this pest continues to be a priority for the Ministry of Agriculture, it also «it continues to be a matter of public and private responsibility, for which we continue to work together, which is demonstrated in the 1 + 1 initiative for the installation of sexual confounders«.

Faced with the strong pressure that the plague had in previous seasons, the president of Asoex, Ronald Bown, projects that for this and next year it should decrease, due to the increase in resources and fewer technical and operational limitations. «We expect the catch indicator to improve considerably, especially in the O'Higgins and Maule regions«, estimates.

More coverage and resources

For next year it is expected that the resources allocated to the control of Lobesia increase to $ 10.609 million, which will have to be approved when the 2016 Budget is discussed. The sector considers this key, since with the current one it is covered with emitters of sexual confusion - the technique that has been most effective until now - only a reduced number of hectares.

The president of the Table Grape Committee of Asoex, Fernando Sat, states that one should aspire to have covered with this technique the more than 180 thousand hectares of vines that are in the regions with the presence of the moth, since it is its main host .

«That would lead to much higher budgets than the current SAG, so it is essential to increase them«, he maintains. He emphasizes that special attention should be paid to vinifera vines, since they concentrate the greatest number of captures, as they have fewer chemical treatments than table grapes.

For this season it will be increased in 80% the surface that will use sexual confusers, going from almost 25 thousand hectares in 2014 to 45 thousand.

«One of the modalities is that the SAG contributes the 50% of the surface and the producer installs the other 50%, according to a ranking that goes from the producer with the highest number of captures to the cleanest, prioritizing those who had the most captures. Continuing with the list, the cleanest producers will receive the 100% of the confounders contributed by the SAG, and others who already used it last year, which are about 12 thousand hectares, will also receive it in 100% as a form of enhance the tool, because it is known that its effect is cumulative«, details Grisel Monje.

The coordinator for the fruit sector of the program LobesiaCarlos Barriga adds that the use of sexual confusion should include the nearly 35 thousand urban hectares that may have foci of the moth. «It is very important to go before the plague and not behind it. We should already be thinking about how to finance the 2016 / 2017 season", He says.

Long-term look

One of the limitations that techniques such as sexual confusion have is that there is only one manufacturer worldwide. For this reason, it is vital to define the medium-term strategy so that local suppliers can count on sufficient stocks and producers can schedule purchases.

«The only way that producers can align with this issue is to know what is the list of products that will be applied and how many are to plan their purchases. For that you have to work with a strategy for at least three years and so make the corresponding bids, because you also have to lower costs, since the sector of wine grapes is totally depressed«says the representative of Vinos de Chile for the wine program. Lobesia, Pedro Hiribarren, coinciding with the comments of other producers.

As part of that long-term view, professor of entomology at the University of Chile Roberto González believes that it is essential to encourage local research on the plague. «There is no insect that attacks the vine that has more annual publications than the Lobesia in Europe, and when resistance phenomena occur they are launching new products ... In Chile we are just in a process of knowing the plague and the same agronomist engineers know it little, because here it is owned by the State", criticism.

However, the scenario has begun to change especially this year, since $ 503 million have been allocated in different projects with public funds for research related to the Lobesia. One of the most striking is the development of sterile insect technique, which has given positive results with other moths at international level, for which the SAG built a laboratory in Arica.

Surveillance in other fruit trees

saglobesiaIn the SAG they assure that one of the biggest risks that represents the Lobesia is its quarantine restriction in several markets of Chilean fruit destination, so among the priorities of the national plan is also to prevent it from spreading to other fruit trees, as happened with the blueberries at the beginning of 2014.

For this reason, other species that have been classified as bibliographic hosts of the insect will continue to be monitored, such as pome trees, stone fruits, kiwis and pomegranates, in which 3.800 traps were installed in 2014-2015, to which is added a private program that began in that Asoex season together with the Cherry Committee to put filters on the fruits that enter the plants, and thus avoid risks of the appearance of larvated fruit. «That is the great commercial risk, because in very polluted areas the Lobesia will attack the orchards that are on the sides, so the program gave very good results and for this season we will deepen it«explains Carlos Barriga.

Grisel Monje assures that until now they have had a calm situation in the different species, despite two isolated detections that occurred last year in cherry trees, which did not go beyond an alert. «The mandatory control program is maintained in the same species and we are not uploading others because it is not necessary, but we are monitoring with enough caution. (…) Last year we informed the main markets that we had actually had a couple of events in cherries and it is something of public knowledge. However, the two farms were extensively monitored and no more immature conditions were determined.«Details the director of the program.

In this sense, Roberto González stresses the importance of maintaining an exhaustive control of the moth to avoid it being transferred to other fruit trees, as well as weeds and ornamental plants, since it competes very well with other pests and manages to displace them.

Some vinifera grape producers complain about having to assume the costs of the treatments, since the insect does not have an economic impact on them. «Controlling it so that it does not harm us would be very cheap, one or two applications could be made and we would have solved it, but since a quarantine problem is being avoided, the subject is different. Now, why the cost have to assume the winemakers in a depressed situation as they are?«says Pedro Hiribarren.

Faced with this, the president of Fedefruta, Juan Carolus Brown, believes that this is an issue of national responsibility: «Since the arrival of the plague the vintners have been reluctant to make the expenses, but it is a matter of solidarity, of national responsibility to try to control it, especially because it entered Chile for them«.

Optimism in blueberries

The presence of larvae of Lobesia in blueberries at the inspection sites, at the beginning of 2014, led the US health authorities to order to fumigate blueberries with methyl bromide from the regions of O'Higgins, Maule and Biobío, and expanded the front of the fight against the moth, with results that until now are evaluated as positive.

In fact, at the end of July, SAG authorities met in the USA. with its USDA / Aphis counterparts to present new information on the state of the pest in Chile and on berries, which was well received and has opened the option that, depending on what the Americans determine, the next harvest will be they could further define the areas from which the fruit should be fumigated, which will be known in the coming months.

«We are providing additional information requested to move forward and have a response soon with the alternative that there are areas or communes that can be released from the obligation to spray…. The final decision is in their technical teams, but what we could perceive and which was ratified in the letter that came from them after the meeting is that the information was very well received.«comments Grisel Monje.

Ronald Bown insists on the importance of having demonstrated that the risk is limited to the orchards neighboring the vineyards or semi-urban areas. «That is why it would be feasible that the North American order be modified and that it only be applied to the fruit coming from the properties located in the communes where in the last season fruit with immature stages was found«, he proposes.

Although cautious, the executive director of the Blueberry Committee, Andrés Armstrong, describes the result of that meeting as very positive. However, he emphasizes that, regardless of what may happen with that decision, "the blueberries and all the fruit growing have to keep working to control this plague, because we have to show more positive numbers«.


Source: Revista del Campo

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