Suterra’s products were recently used in a collaborative IPM demonstration funded by Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE). Throughout the past two years, growers and researchers worked together to confirm the effectiveness of two of the most popular IPM strategies in combating vine mealybug in Lodi. Learn more about the project here in this article.
VINE MEALYBUG INCREASES AS A VINEYARD THREAT
Over the past two decades, vine mealybug has become an increasingly prominent threat for vine growers in the Lodi, California region. As vine mealybug can spread leafroll virus, which can permanently damage vines and make vineyards less suitable for replanting, growers are understandably seriously concerned about the rapid spread of this pest.
Several integrated pest management (IPM) strategies have been explored for the control of this insect, the most popular of which have been augmentative biocontrol and mating disruption. Through a grant from SARE, the Lodi Winegrape commission worked with and demonstrated to growers in the region that sustainable IPM strategies can be extremely effective at managing this notorious pest.
In previous trials, Principle Investigator Dr. Stephanie Bolton determined that the use of pheromone-based mating disruption products is “imperative for the Lodi winegrowing region” in regards to combatting Vine Mealybug. Therefore, these Lodi trials were less about re-establishing that mating disruption works and more about demonstrating its efficacy to farmers that may be hesitant to adopt sustainable new technologies.
USING SCIENCE AND OUTREACH TO HELP GROWERS
For the trial portion of this project, participating vineyards were provided with the materials needed for the trial. Suterra provided all trapping materials for the trials, as well as mating disruption products in the quantities needed for the demonstration. Growers were able to choose between Suterra’s VMB flowable and dispenser products, depending on what fit their vineyard’s unique layout and situation.
Throughout the trials, growers found results that further confirmed what previous studies have already determined: mating disruption and IPM works. Charlie Starr IV and Aaron Lange, some of the cooperating growers, took their experience with this project and applied it to a larger-scale trial. The trial results were dramatic. In vineyards where mating disruption was used, growers trapped an average of only 17 mealybugs per block, as opposed to an average of 628 in control plots.
Perhaps more important than the results themselves, however, was the outreach to Lodi wine growers that this project was able to provide. Despite the abundance of studies showing the efficacy of mating disruption on reducing vine mealybug populations, many growers may still be hesitant to adopt the new technology, or simply don’t know about it. As part of the funding for this project, the Lodi Winegrape Commission created an educational Family Field day for growers and their children to learn the fundamentals of pheromone mating disruption. In addition, the Commission produced a promotional video explaining the benefits of using biocontrol to control this pest, which can be viewed on Youtube.
Suterra has a commitment to going above and beyond regarding our outreach with growers. By lending our resources to this study, we hope that more wine growers in the Lodi area are aware of the challenges vine mealybug can pose, as well as the options that are available to manage the pest. If you have questions about vine mealybug, mating disruption or integrated pest management, contact your local Suterra representative or email us online using this form.