Fruit fly quarantines costing farmers

Jan. 3, 2010 at 5:17 PM
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FALLBROOK, Calif., Jan. 3 (UPI) -- Farmers in California's San Diego County say they are suffering from a succession of fruit fly quarantines, leaving their crops overripe and unsaleable.

California's State Department of Food and Agriculture directs the quarantines. It takes upward of eight weeks to complete Mediterranean fruit fly treatment, during which time farmers are unable to harvest and have to stand by while their crops becomes overly ripe and useless for sale, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported Sunday.

There have been six quarantines in San Diego County in the past year.

"This is new for us," said Eric Larson, executive director of the San Diego County Farm Bureau. "We've had Mexican fruit fly quarantines in the past, but we have not had so many fruit fly quarantines in such short order."

More than 260 types of fruit and vegetables can be infested by the Mediterranean fruit fly, which makes them inedible by laying eggs in them, the newspaper said.

The treatment involves ground-spraying of an organic compound along with releasing sterile fruit flies.

Officials say the pests are a threat to the county's $1.5 billion agriculture industry. An infestation could ruin $280 million worth of crops countywide, the North County Times said.

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