CDFA’s Pierce’s Disease Program to help administer federal funding for pest mitigation costs
SACRAMENTO — A new federally-funded program will help bring relief to California nurseries, which have done much of the work and borne many of the costs in the fight against the glassy-winged sharpshooter and Pierce’s disease. The pest spreads bacteria that cause Pierce’s disease in grape vines, and similar diseases in other plants.
Efforts by the nursery industry, the California congressional delegation, and CDFA have brought about this new program, totaling $5 million from USDA. The money will assist the nursery industry in its efforts to prevent the spread of the pest and the disease.
“The nursery industry has been an invaluable partner in our success in keeping the glassy-winged sharpshooter from spreading throughout California, even though most nurseries are not directly affected by the insect or the diseases it spreads,” said CDFA Secretary William (Bill) J. Lyons, Jr. “Because these companies grow and transport plants that may harbor this pest, nurseries have shouldered the responsibility of strict inspections and the possibility of delayed or rejected shipments. This new funding allows us to relieve some of that financial pressure.”
The funding will be disbursed through a new nursery pest mitigation program, to be conducted cooperatively by CDFA’s Pierce's Disease Program, the USDA, and the Los Angeles County Department of Agriculture. The $5 million in federal funding has been provided to help nurseries that ship out of regulated areas with the costs of pest control efforts that help prevent the spread of Pierce's disease.
To date, more than 60 nurseries have applied for partial reimbursements. The basis for reimbursement will be a formula that will compute average costs for plants shipped to non-infested destinations.
The $5 million is the latest addition to more than $135 million in state, federal and industry funding that began in 1999 when Governor Gray Davis recognized the threat posed by the glassy-winged sharpshooter and began leading the fight against it.
The Pierce’s Disease Program is also conducting other projects to aid the nursery industry and its efforts to limit the spread of the sharpshooter. An experiment began in July 2003 to test the efficacy of pre-shipment treatment of nursery stock to kill GWSS egg masses and emerging nymphs. Researchers at the University of California, Riverside are conducting the study with help from the nursery industry and the Pierce’s Disease Program. The experiment will be repeated this fall to test efficacy under cooler conditions.
A separate study is now underway at Valley Crest Tree Company in Fillmore to test the efficacy of screen barriers to protect plants from glassy-winged sharpshooters, and also to test the efficacy of “trap crops”, which are defined as decoy crops treated with pesticides to eliminate the sharpshooters before they reach protected crops. The studies are scheduled for completion in April 2004.
The glassy-winged sharpshooter feeds and lays eggs on hundreds of plant species. There is no known cure for Pierce’s disease or the other diseases spread by this pest.
California Department of Food and Agriculture Office of Public Affairs
1220 N St., Ste. 214, Sacramento, CA 95814