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Goulburn Murray Valley Queensland Fruit Fly Communiqué – Jan 2018

April 3, 2018

This information has been commissioned by the Goulburn Murray Valley Regional Fruit Fly Project and is funded by the Victorian Government’s Managing Fruit Fly Regional Grants Program. Use or copying of this material in its complete and original format, acknowledging it source, is permitted, however, any unauthorised alterations to the text or content is not permitted.

Trapping program

More than 350 male-targeting traps have been deployed in and around 21 towns between Toolamba and Cobram as part of the program and are checked weekly. Each trap contains a male attractant (cuelure) and a pesticide (malathion). These traps do not attract female fruit fly, but are used to detect the presence of QFF populations and to gauge changes in populations over time.

“The regional QFF trapping program is one component of our project which aims to reduce fruit fly populations in the Goulburn Murray Valley region of Victoria to a point where production, productivity and export earnings are not restricted,” Goulburn Murray Valley(GMV) Queensland Fruit Fly (QFF) Coordinator, Ross Abberfield said.

While trapping findings have indicated that the large upsurge in fruit fly numbers detected in December are on the decline, flies are now present in all life stages – from eggs and larvae in fruit, through to pupae in the soil, and both immature and mature adult flies.

 

Current situation – January 2018

QFF numbers are still high in the urban areas of Cobram, Kyabram, Mooroopna, Shepparton and Tatura although, compared with December 2017, monthly trap captures have halved; except for Tatura which has remained the same.

“Now is the time to act decisively and take ownership of your fruit trees and vegetables. Help reduce QFF numbers by picking up and destroying fallen fruit, harvesting any fruit that’s still on the tree and process, eat or hygienically destroy it. If we can act now, the QFF threat for the rest of the summer and autumn will be reduced,” GMV QFF Coordinator Ross Abberfield said.

But …. January is the CRUNCH-MONTH because, since the summer of 2014/15, February has been the peak QFF month. This was the cause of large numbers of QFF surviving over autumn and winter. It was these flies that resulted in severe QFF problems in home and commercial orchards in the following season.

Right now, the GMV QFF population is present as a mixture of adults, eggs, larvae and pupae. The weather is suitable for growth and maturation of QFF and there are many ripe and ripening fruit and vegetables that QFF will infest easily. These fruits exist in home gardens, orchards, untended properties, roadsides, channel banks and bushland.

Trap data reveals that the majority of the GMV’s QFF is present in urban areas. Generally, normal orchard operations (such as hygiene, trapping and baiting) reduce QFF in commercial crops. However, QFF can move from urban areas into commercial orchards putting these orchards under immense pressure to keep fruit flies out so that they can produce good quantities of high-quality produce that can be consumed domestically or exported.

Home gardeners can produce good quantities of their own fruit and vegetables by keeping QFF in check and, in so doing, they will help stop QFF from spreading out of town and into commercial orchards.

Home gardeners should place male- and female-targeting fruit fly traps in their yards. They should take advantage of offers to remove unwanted trees and use fruit fly control methods such as home garden hygiene, fruit bagging, tree netting and fruit fly baiting. They should also consult with local friends and neighbours to see if fruit flies are nearby. Your Regional Fruit Fly Co-ordinator, Agriculture Victoria staff and produce store can help with suggestions on possible options.

QFF infested fruit and vegetables

Any fruit and vegetable in the home garden that has been infested with QFF should be destroyed by placing it in the freezer or microwave before disposing of it. Alternatively effected produce can be destroyed by placing it in a sealed plastic bag and leaving it in the sun for 5-7 days to kill any maggots before placing it in the bin. Fruit and vegetables infested with fruit fly should only be disposed of once it has been appropriately treated in order to ensure the pest is not transferred to another location.

Information for farmers and growers

Commercial growers and farmers should now have QFF management strategies set in place – either ready to implement as soon as monitoring traps show an increase in QFF or have already commenced a weekly baiting program in anticipation of harvest, if considered appropriate for their crop.

Both farmers and commercial growers should have commenced fruit fly trapping and should continue to keep an eye on ripening fruit for fruit fly sting marks. If their farm had fruit fly problems last year they should consider future fruit fly control methods such as orchard hygiene and fruit fly baiting, placement of additional traps for more accurate detection of fruit fly population incursions and purchase of approved pesticides and fruit fly baits. Orchard hygiene is important in reducing the impact of QFF in our region and should form part of fruit fly control measures. Farmers should remove unwanted fruit fly host plants from their house paddock, along creek banks, on roadsides near their farm and other areas to eliminate potential breeding grounds. Ensure any unwanted fruit does not get infested by spraying it. It is a possible source of stock food in some applications or even a fertiliser after it has been mulched.

QFF Field Officers active in the Goulburn Murray Valley

Field Officers have been positioned across the Goulburn Murray Valley as part of a coordinated approach to protecting the region against QFF. “The deployment of Field Officers allows for the immediate management of fruit fly hot spots as they occur. The appointment of officers is an important element in protecting the region from fruit fly through coordinated area wide pest management,” GMV QFF Coordinator Ross Abberfield said. Officers have been funded through the Victorian Government’s Managing Fruit Fly Regional Grants program and were deployed at the beginning of January 2018.

Free Urban Fruit Tree Removal Program – extended until the end of February

The free Urban Fruit Tree Removal Program has been extended until the end of February due to continued high demand. GMV QFF Coordinator Ross Abberfield said the program is available in the Shires of Campaspe, Greater Shepparton, Moira and Strathbogie as part of a regional approach to the management and control of QFF. “The program has led to the successful reduction in potential breeding grounds found in unattended fruit trees and rotten fruit left on the ground or on trees,” Mr Abberfield said. Trees are removed by a fully insured private contractor at no cost to the property owner. Applications to have fruit trees removed through the program are available from participating Councils.

Roadsides, channels banks and public land

The Rogue Fruit Tree Register allows members of the public and government agencies to identify and ultimately remove rogue fruit trees and vegetables growing on public land across the Goulburn Murray Valley region. GMV QFF Coordinator Ross Abberfield said host plants growing wild on public land provide an ideal breeding site for QFF. Members of the community wishing to report rogue fruit trees growing wild on public land, can contact the customer service desk at their local Council and complete the Rogue Fruit Tree Registration Form.

Summary

Current weather conditions are perfect for flies to now be present in all life stages. It is likely that first generation QFF active in December have found mates and laid eggs in any ripe or ripening fruit. QFF is now present in large numbers throughout the region as a mixture of eggs and larvae in fruit, pupae in the soil, immature adults which are not attracted to traps and mature adult flies that are. A united community effort and continued action is essential in reducing the spread any further.

More information

For more information about how you can help prevent the spread of fruit fly contact your Council’s Customer Service Centre or visit www.gmv-qldfruitfly.com.au or follow us on Facebook