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Insect pest threat to commercial fruit orchards destroyed in Pennsylvania.

April 28, 2011

2 Min Read

Abandoned fruit trees have long been documented as a breeding ground haven for fruit diseases and especially insects. They are the weak link in area-wide mating disruption programs employed by commercial orchards in Pennsylvania's most intensive fruit-growing region.

That's why Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Penn State Cooperative Extension and its Fruit Research and Education Center in Adams County collaborated to identify and remove 39 acres of abandoned apple trees on three properties in the heart of Adams County's fruit belt.

Priority was given to land posing the greatest threat to active acreage, thus potentially reducing use of chemical control of insects or disease. "We needed to address growers' reports of higher pest counts in trees nearest abandoned orchards to ensure productivity and industry growth is not hampered," explains acting Secretary of Agriculture George Greig.

The control gap resulting from unmanaged trees, according to USDA researchers at the Appalachian Fruit Research Station, Kearneysville, W.Va., and others in Washington State, may be increasing the incidence of oriental fruit moths and their developing resistance to commonly used organophosphate insecticides.

Also complicating commercial orchard control programs is the fact that codling moth flight patterns differ between commercial and abandoned orchards, according to Penn State Extension Entomologists Larry Hull and Greg Krawczyk. Both work at Penn State's Fruit Research and Extension Center at Biglerville, Pa.

Washington State takes the abandoned orchard threat so seriously that Horticultural Pest Boards are established to take remedial action to assure that problem trees or orchard are properly taken care of. Often, all this involved is an educational effort.

Sometimes pest management strategies may be applied by the Board at the owner's expense. In some instances, the best strategy may be to remove the trees or abandoned orchards.

In Yakima County, for instance, key "action pests" include codling moth, San Jose scale, cherry fruit fly, pear psylla and apple maggot. Other insect pests and plant diseases also can build up in neglected trees and abandoned orchards.

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