Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Fruit fly hits Goulburn Valley this season

Orchardists are being urged to closely monitor their orchards for fruit fly and take appropriate action following a bad year for the pest in the Goulburn Valley.

May 27, 2014 3:31am

Orchardists are being urged to closely monitor their orchards for fruit fly and take appropriate action following a bad year for the pest in the Goulburn Valley.

Fruit Growers Victoria general manager John Wilson told Country News the threat of fruit fly was rife and SPC Ardmona had found maggots in fruit, which then had to be rejected.

Mr Wilson said it was the responsibility of the orchardists to control the problem since DEPI had moved away from controlling the pest in northern Victoria.

‘‘If you think there is a chance you have fruit fly and you do nothing it is a foolish way to run your property,’’ he said.

In 2012 the then DPI announced proposals to abandon a pest-free approach to controlling Queensland fruit fly across most of Victoria because outbreaks had become so numerous and the cost was escalating.

Plunkett Orchards general manager Jason Shields said the orchard didn’t expect such a significant outbreak as that which occurred.

‘‘Everyone thought we wouldn’t get it,’’ he said.

‘‘At the end of our apricot season any fruit that was left on the trees was infested.’’

Mr Shields said the orchard was then prepared for the next varieties of fruit.

He said the cost of control was small compared to the potential damage fruit fly could cause.

‘‘It’s a no-brainer, compared to the codling moth where we might spend five times the amount to control.’’

Wintersun Fruit marketer and proprietor Brad Smith said the fruit fly epidemic was inevitable.

‘‘We had to bait our whole property, which is a great expense on large properties,’’ he said.

Mr Smith said dirty orchards attracted more pests.

‘‘Last year when the cannery didn’t take a lot of the orchards’ fruit, some orchards were left quite dirty which led to fruit flies breeding.’’

Environmental monitoring services consultant Steve Booth specialises in integrated pest management and assisted farmers in the previous apple and pear seasons.

Mr Booth said a grower who tried to control the pest with spray alone reported the damage level at 10 per cent of the crop.

‘‘It’s been a really steep learning curve,’’ he said.

‘‘The best control is baiting. It is highly successful and with great results.’’

Mr Booth said if all orchardists adopted baiting solutions there would be less occurrence of the fly in the future.

‘‘My opinion is the Queensland fruit fly will struggle to cause damage in the Goulburn Valley,’’ he said.

Mr Booth said different measures needed to be taken for tomato and vegetable industries.

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