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Media Contacts:
Veda Federighi, 916/445-3974
Glenn Brank, 916/445-3970
June 22, 1999 (99-15)


SACRAMENTO--Cal/EPA's Department of Pesticide Regulation today announced $737,000 in Pest Management Alliance grants to fund 10 large-scale projects aimed at reducing the use of high-risk pesticides in the growing of cotton, tree fruit, almonds, rice, walnuts, sugar beets, seeds, and cut flowers.

This is the second year of the Alliance program, which is designed to encourage industry-wide adoption of pest management techniques that reduce pesticide risks to workers, consumers, and the environment. In these public-private alliances, the grant recipients provide matching funds equal to the DPR grant. Last year, the Alliance awarded eight major grants that ranged up to $100,000 each.

Among the 10 recipients of this year's grants are four projects from last year that will receive another year of funding to continue their innovative work.

"I am especially pleased at the quality of the projects that received second-year funding," said DPR Director Paul E. Helliker. "Their projects demonstrate reduced-risk pest control practices that are economical--and that work.

"For example, almond and prune growers are getting together to learn about innovative pest management methods, walnut growers are evaluating and demonstrating regional reduced-risk practices, and pear growers are applying innovative methods learned in one area to crops in other parts of the state. Typically, Alliance groups focus on communicating information through demonstrations, field days, and publications about reduced-risk practices."

Helliker said that the new Alliance participants would show the same commitment to implementing alternative methods to the use of conventional pesticides. "They have a great incentive to succeed," Helliker said. "Farmers are being pressured to find alternatives to conventional pesticides, and are willing to put up their own money to help do it. Beyond our grants, we help the Alliance participants by giving them technical advice on what has worked-and what hasn't-with other crops."

Four groups received Alliance funding for the second year:

Six groups are first-time Alliance participants:

DPR distributes grants under two major programs: the two-year-old Alliance program, which focuses on statewide projects, and the Innovations in Pest Management program. The latter, established in 1996, focuses on local and regional projects. DPR has awarded $4.3 million in grants in the two programs.

DPR is one of six boards and departments within the California Environmental Protection Agency. DPR regulates all aspects of pesticide sales and use, recognizing the need to control pests, while protecting public health and the environment and fostering reduced-risk pest management strategies.

(A list of Alliance grants with additional details and contact names is attached.)


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The California Pear Advisory Board, based in Sacramento, to establish a pheromone-based insect management project with new growers in Lake, Mendocino, El Dorado, and Sacramento counties. (2nd year, $100,000)

California pear growers produce approximately 300,000 tons on less than 20,000 acres. The codling moth is a critical pear pest. Pear growers must find an alternative for a key insecticide because of pest resistance and new DPR restrictions that limit the pesticide's use. A relatively new method of controlling codling moth involves the use of pheromones, or scents that disrupt mating. This is the second year of a five-year project. The target is to reduce organophosphate (OP) insecticide use by 75% to 89% by the end of the second year. By the end of year five, the goal is to reduce OP use by 95%. The Alliance is working to develop a combination of pheromones, insect growth regulators, and conventional chemicals to manage pear pests, while reducing codling moth resistance to pesticides and protecting beneficial organisms. (Pear Advisory Board contact: Chris Zanobini, 916-441-0432)

The Almond Board of California, based in Modesto, to promote a reduced-risk system of almond production through use of alternative products and practices, on-site demonstrations, and grower education. (2nd year, $98,976)

The almond industry formed an Alliance in 1998 to promote a reduced-risk system of almond production through use of alternative products and practices, demonstration projects, and grower education. This Alliance established three regional demonstration orchard sites in Butte, Stanislaus, and Kern counties. This regional approach allows for various orchard conditions, different soil types, irrigation methods, microclimates, and pest and disease pressures. A common thread through all three projects is a focus on studying current grower practices versus "alternative" practices. The Almond Alliance has had a unifying effect within the industry by bringing a common focus to issues related to pesticide use. Alliance funding for a second year will allow for additional research and an accelerated effort to demonstrate reduced-risk production systems. (Almond Board contact: Mark Looker, 209-549-8262 ext.108)

The California Prune Board, based in Pleasanton, to expand and strengthen existing reduced-risk pest management strategies and improve communication and cooperation among different segments of the industry. (2nd year, $92,727)

The prune industry formed an Alliance in 1998 to strengthen existing efforts to promote reduced-risk strategies in prunes and to increase their use through demonstration and outreach. The Alliance established demonstration orchards in prune-growing regions throughout the state. Each orchard is split, comparing the grower's "conventional program" to the reduced-risk program. Participating growers have significantly reduced their use of OPs, switching to low-toxicity materials such as oils, potassium nitrate, and Bacillus thuringiensis, and increasing their use of beneficial insects. Cover crops have been used to improve water infiltration and improve biodiversity, while vegetative buffer strips have helped prevent water runoff that may contain pesticide residues. Alliance funding for a second year will allow for a continued effort to demonstrate a reduced-risk system of prune production through alternative practices and grower education. (Prune Board contact: Rich Peterson, 925-734-0150).

The Walnut Marketing Board, based in Sacramento, to continue development of a project designed to encourage adoption of reduced-risk management strategies in walnuts statewide. (2nd year funding, $65,750)

The walnut industry formed an Alliance in 1998 to identify key reduced-risk pest management strategies for walnuts, and established demonstration orchards statewide to put these strategies into action. Each demonstration orchard is split, comparing the growers "conventional program" to a reduced-risk approach. The reduced-risk approach includes monitoring by the University of California (UC) to more accurately identify pest levels and plan treatment strategies; mating disruption and beneficial insect releases to control codling moth; use of predictive models to better time fungicide treatments; and use of "soft" chemicals. At regional field days, growers have learned about alternative practices for controlling codling moth and walnut blight, gotten a better understanding of the value of cover crops in walnuts, and learned how to improve water infiltration. Alliance funding for a second year will expand the project, and focus outreach efforts on increasing grower adoption. (UC Davis contact: Dave Ramos, 530-756-0531)

The California Cotton Growers Association, based in Fresno, to facilitate adoption of integrated pest management (IPM) strategies by improving outreach and field evaluation in Pima and Upland cotton varieties. ($100,000 )

California accounts for approximately 15% of the United States cotton production. Approximately 80% of all California cotton is exported, and worth an estimated $1.3 billion. Through the Alliance, the industry in conjunction with UC Cooperative Extension will conduct field testing to support implementation of reduced-risk insect and weed pest management practices, and cotton defoliation. Approaches include evaluation of reduced-risk materials and pest management practices, evaluation of alternative cotton defoliants, chemical rotation to increase efficacy and decrease the incidence of pest resistance, and incorporation of biological control and regional pest management programs. (California Cotton Ginners and Growers Associations contact: Earl Williams, 559-252-0684)

The California Beet Growers Association, Stockton, to improve integrated management of insect pests in sugar beets. ($88,841)

Sugar beets grown in California account for nine percent of the nation's sugar beet crop. California produced 2.9 million tons of sugar beets valued at more than $93 million produced in 1998. Costs and difficulties in managing sugar beet pests have been partly responsible for a reduction of acreage in the state from more than 200,000 acres in 1981 to the current 112,000 acres. Sugar beet growers need alternatives that are sustainable and less likely to cause secondary pest problems. The Association will use the Alliance grant to demonstrate a reduced-risk approach to sugar beet armyworm management; demonstrate that the reduced-risk pesticide imidacloprid can be economical and effective for controlling aphids and aphid-transmitted viruses; evaluate diseases and pests that damage seedling plants in the Imperial Valley; and develop a pest management Web site for growers and pest control advisors. (California Beet Growers Association contact: Ben Goodwin, 209-477-5596)

The California Cut Flower Commission, Watsonville, to demonstrate and implement a reduced risk pest management strategy in fresh cut roses. ($85,000)

In California alone, annual farm sale of flowers and foliage exceeds $500 million and fresh-cut roses account for $80 to $100 million of these sales. On a per-acre basis, greenhouses account for some of the most intensive use of pesticides in agriculture. Customers demand flowers and foliage free of pest damage, which translates into a low grower tolerance for pests. Intensive pesticide use in the close confines of a greenhouse increases worker exposure, acts as a point source for environmental contamination, and contributes to the development of pesticide resistance and escalating costs. This Alliance will integrate and implement a reduced-risk pest management program using improved monitoring of pests and beneficial insects to determine when and if to use pesticides; reduced spray volume techniques; and an evaluation of user guidelines for reduced-risk pesticides. (Cut Flower Commission contact: Katheryn Miele, 530-642-8220)

The California Seed Association, based in Sacramento, to develop an alfalfa seed pest management implementation training program for the central San Joaquin Valley. ($55,000)

California annually produces more than 300 million pounds of seed representing 425 varieties and more than $500 million in annual sales. California accounts for 40% of alfalfa seed production for the world market. The Alliance goal is to help the alfalfa seed industry develop a resistance management program and develop pest management systems to replace pesticides expected to be lost to regulatory action. The California Seed Association will carry out the program through grower education seminars, reduced pesticide applications, and shortened pollination periods. (California Seed Association contact: Anne Downs, 916-441-2251)

The California Tree Fruit Agreement, Reedley, for a project to evaluate and implement sustainable pest management practices for key insect pests in clingstone canning and fresh market peaches, plums and nectarines. ($31,325)

In 1998, California produced 875,750 tons of peaches. Clingstone peaches comprise 68% of the total crop and are exclusively used for processing which includes canning, juice and baby food. Fresh shipping freestone peaches represent the remaining fraction, or 32% of the annual tonnage. California also produced 186,000 tons of plums and 212,000 tons of nectarines for the fresh market during 1998. Several organophosphate pesticides used in stone fruit production may be subject to restrictions by pesticide regulators because of their adverse impact on surface water, and because of reevaluation under the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA). This Alliance is aimed at refining previous work on a comprehensive IPM program to control key pests; identifying beneficial insects for augmentative release to control San Jose Scale; testing the efficacy of reduced-risk pesticides; evaluating the efficacy of pheromone mating disruption; and establishing demonstration sites throughout production regions to train growers. (Tree Fruit Agreement contact: Marilyn Watkins, 559-638-8260)

The California Rice Research Board, Yuba City, to develop a reduced-risk program for control of rice water weevil and to demonstrate program efficacy to rice growers and the rice industry. ($20,000)

California produces 23 percent of the rice grown in the U.S., with a farmgate value of $347 million. Rice water weevil is the most destructive insect pest of California rice, and can reduce yields by 10 to 30 percent. Since the 1970s, this pest has been controlled primarily through the prophylactic use of carbofuran, which is being phased out, primarily because of its impact on birds and other wildlife. Newly registered products are used during a narrow window of time early in the season. The Alliance grant will allow the rice industry to develop techniques to better monitor pest populations. The information will be used to precisely time pesticide applications, moving away from prophylactic treatments and minimizing unnecessary treatments. (California Rice Research Board contact: Dana Dickey, 530-673-6247)