Without Insecticide Sprays, California Olives are Rejected by Food Companies

The olive fruit fly is the most significant pest of olives worldwide. The female lays her eggs within the olive and her offspring tunnel through the inside, eating as they go, to reach the surface. This ancient pest was first discovered in California in 1998; insecticide sprays have been necessary to prevent serious damage ever since. In 2011 some California olive growers cut back on their insecticide applications. Bill Krueger, a University of California Cooperative Extension farm adviser, and Cody McCoy, Northern California field manager for Bell-Carter Foods, offered their thoughts on the implications of this decision…

“In 2011 the olive fruit fly numbers were higher than they had been since 2004, Krueger said. … ‘You certainly have to think that the lack of spraying had something to do with it, too. I know one particular case where they just didn’t start spraying early enough, and what we saw there was old damage at harvest,’ he said.”

“McCoy agreed, saying he also saw high OLFF¬†[olive fruit fly]¬†damage in 2011. At one point, nearly three-fourths of the olives delivered to the Bell-Carter production facility showed OLFF damage, he said. The majority of the OLFF damage was concentrated in a few olive samples, McCoy said. But because of the extent of the damage, the fruit was rejected.”

Author: Kathy Coatney
Title: Table olive growers are hoping 2012 will be a better year.
Publication: Ag Alert. February 8, 2012. pp.8-9.