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  • The “100 Days War”

    Right now there’s a war going on in California. It’s not your typical war, but it happens every year from the end of January into June.

    Plants being inspected for GWSS egg masses before being shipped

    Plants at a Southern California nursery being inspected for GWSS egg masses before being shipped

    “The ‘100 Days War’ is how the nursery industry refers to this period, because that’s when many of them ship roughly 70% of their nursery stock production for the entire year,” said David House, President of Village Nurseries. “Some of the nurseries that ship to the big retailers are operating 24 hours a day, six days a week during this time,” added House.

    During this period major holidays, including Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, take place, all of which involve giving flowers. Then, to top it all off, it’s also when people look around their yards and decide to do some spring landscaping and plant vegetable gardens. As a result, some nurseries are shipping as many as 20,000 plants a day during this time.

    Plants being sprayed prior to shipment to a non-infested area.

    Right in the middle of this “war” is when the first glassy-winged sharpshooters (GWSS) of the season begin to emerge as well. With over half of California’s nurseries located in Southern California’s GWSS infested areas, the challenge is to keep plant shipments free of GWSS. During the first two months of 2018 there were 5,207 shipments from GWSS-infested areas to non-infested areas of the state. That’s up by 456 loads, or over nine percent, compared to the first two months of 2017.

    With the GWSS populations increasing during this period, there’s an added chance of egg masses being present on nursery stock. Plants that have been identified as hosts for GWSS receive extra attention and efforts by nurseries, which trap, treat, inspect, and safeguard plants to make sure they are free of GWSS.

    Plants shipped to non-infested areas must be certified as GWSS-free before being shipped and may be inspected once again when they arrive at their GWSS-free destinations before they are released for sale at local outlets. “The county teams that provide inspection and certification services have been very cooperative despite their workloads,” said Robert L. Crudup, Jr., President and CEO of BrightView Tree Company. “It requires a working partnership to smooth out any bottlenecks and to keep the lines of communication open.”

    Two leaves showing a fresh and an old GWSS egg mass found during an inspection.

    Two leaves showing a fresh and an old GWSS egg mass found during an inspection.

    All this effort by nurseries and county agricultural staff really pays off. In 2017, GWSS were found in only six of 36,700 shipments, a success rate of 99.98 percent.

    And what happens in the rare event that GWSS adults, nymphs, or egg masses are found in a shipment at their destination? The shipment may either be destroyed, returned to origin, or rendered pest-free and released.

    With the increase over last year’s numbers, this year’s “100 Days War” looks to be a busy one. All the troops, from nursery workers to county agricultural commissioners’ staffs, stand ready to once again help stop the spread of GWSS.

  • CDFA Statewide Survey and
    Detection Gearing Up

    Yellow sticky trap hanging from a citrus tree.

    Yellow traps like this one are hung in yards across California in an effort to discover pests as quickly as possible.

    Spring is fast approaching, and that means that populations of the glassy-winged sharpshooter (GWSS) will soon be on the rise. The approaching warm weather is the trigger that activates the GWSS statewide survey and detection program.

    The focus of the program is on systematically trapping in uninfested urban and rural residential areas and nurseries to determine if GWSS are present. GWSS are detected by using yellow panel traps that are deployed in 43 counties that are not infested or are only partially infested with GWSS. The GWSS are attracted to the trap’s bright yellow color and become stuck on the adhesive surface. County and state personnel service traps on a regular basis during the trapping season.

    Each urban and rural residential trap is checked every two or three weeks and moved to a new location every six weeks. New traps are used as needed.  During the peak of the trapping season, approximately 33,000 traps are deployed and serviced statewide for GWSS detection and survey.

    During 2017, the Pierce’s Disease Control Program (PDCP) provided detection training to 533 employees from 34 counties, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), nurseries participating in the Approved Treatment Program (ATP), and citrus packing houses. Staff assisted county personnel with field surveys and also conducted quality control inspections of county trapping programs. These inspections are done to ensure trap placement, host selection, servicing schedules, and record keeping are performed properly.

    These and other efforts in the continuing partnership of government and industry have been a cornerstone in stemming the movement of GWSS into uninfested areas of the state for 17 years.