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Pierce's Disease Control Program Judged Very Effective

According to an article in the most recent issue of the Ag Alert, there were only four shipments of nursery stock rejected in the entire state in 2011 due to the presence of the Glassy Winged Sharpshooter (GWSS). The statewide board that guides policy and directs funding for the this program reported that pest detections on more than 44,000 nursery stock shipments were the lowest number since the start of the inspection program nearly a decade ago. The GWSS is a insect that feeds on plant juices and is extremely fond of grapevines. While feeding the insect spreads a disease that can severely damage the vines that produce wine grapes, reducing yields and in some severe cases require major replants.

Ventura County is a severely infested area of the state and shipments of nursery stock destined for areas of Ca. where wine grapes are grown require 100% inspection prior to certification for shipment. The GWSS crew may inspect over 75,000 individual plants a month during peak periods. Most of the work is done by seasonal inspectors. The crew also includes a small number of permanent Insect Detection Specialists, and a Supervising Agricultural Inspector.

Nursery stock is number three in value among all crops grown in Ventura County worth over $180,000,000 in 2010. The activity is funded by the winegrape growers themselves through an assessment on grapes harvested, assisted by funds from the USDA.

The Pierce’s Disease/Glassy Winged Sharpshooter board reports that throughout the decade the program has been in place a collaboration of state, federal and local agricultural departments, winegrape growers and research institutions has made significant strides toward controlling the pest. Research also is helping build a foundation of new information and scientific advances to close in on solutions to Pierce’s Disease.

The threat of Pierce’s Disease continues in California , but with better understanding and improved field management techniques progress is being made.

"This news makes us very proud of the dedicated and hardworking group of people that comprise our GWSS Crew" comments Ventura County Agricultural Commissioner Henry Gonzales.

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