Lodi vineyards could face a quarantine

Two grape-hungry moths found, but harvest can be sold

August 9, 2010 

Wine Harvest

Workers pick Sauvignon Blanc grapes at a vineyard in Oakville, Calif., Friday, Aug. 22, 2008. California winemakers are bringing in the grape harvest this month after a challenging year that started with unusual frosts and moved on to smoky summer wildfires. So far, industry observers say it looks like the crop will be lighter than usual but the fruit that is coming in is good.(AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

ERIC RISBERG — AP

  • At A Glance

    • The European grapevine moth causes significant damage to the flowers and berries of grapevines. It also feeds on blackberries, cherries, currants, gooseberries, kiwis, olives, nectarines, persimmons, plums and pomegranates, though it is not known to cause significant damage to these plants.

    • It is native to southern Italy but has been found in vineyards throughout Europe, northern and western Africa, the Middle East, southern Russia, Japan and Chile.

    • Last year's discovery in Napa County was the first recorded detection in the United States.

    • It is known to cause flowers to rot.

    • There are two to four generations of European grapevine moths per year, depending on the temperature.

    Source: California Department of Food and Agriculture

LODI -- Ninety-seven square miles of vineyards in the Lodi area could face a quarantine after San Joaquin County officials detected two European grapevine moths, which can severely damage grapes.

Mark Chandler, executive director of the Lodi-Woodbridge Winegrape Commission, said there's no cause for alarm.

"A quarantine means you have to handle it in a specified way," he said. "That's an inconvenience. It's not going to prevent you from harvesting or selling your grapes."

The moths were detected last week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the California Department of Food and Agriculture, according to county Agricultural Commissioner Scott Hudson.

The moths were detected in Napa County in September 2009 and later in Sonoma, Solano, Mendocino, Merced and Fresno counties.

"We think we can eradicate it in California," Hudson said Thursday.

San Joaquin County and state inspectors will place nearly 2,400 traps in commercial vineyards within a 97-square-mile area, Hudson said.

A quarantine will be established as soon as county officials develop the boundaries. The boundary will be in a circle, with the edges of the circle being approximately Pel- tier Road to the north, Jack Tone Road on the east, Morada Lane to the south and Davis Road in the west.

Growers will be allowed to move their grapes, but not until they enter into a compliance agreement with the agricultural commissioner's office prior to harvest, Hudson said.

One moth was detected Aug. 2, but it was the moth found Wednesday that will kick in the quarantine, Hudson said.

"From what I understand, it's a pest that can be taken care of," said Amy Blagg, executive director of the Lodi District Grape Growers Association.

Blagg said it will cause extra work and expense for growers because they will have to put tarps over the grapes as they are transported on trucks. Some extra paperwork also will be required, she said.

Chandler said he doesn't know how much the tarps will cost farmers. The cost will be determined by the trucking companies that haul the grapes, he said.

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