One of the major insect pests for UK top-fruit growers, Codling Moth (Cydia pomonella), is becoming a growing threat to profitable fruit production. The lepidoptera pest causes significant damage to fruit when the adult moth emerges from winter to breed and lay eggs. The emerging larvae burrow into fruit looking for the seed, causing dropped and graded-out fruits.
Normally only able to complete a single lifecycle per season, the pest can be relatively easily controlled, but with a warming climate, completed second generations of this pest are becoming more common, requiring an increasingly robust control strategy. However, the challenging regulatory landscape has seen recently relied-upon actives such as methoxyfenozide lost and the future for others far from certain, making full control harder to achieve. Increasingly, growers are looking to rely on building and protecting natural populations of beneficial insects to protect fruit from damage, but these can be overwhelmed, and non-selective insecticides are not compatible with this approach.
Pressures are also increasing on growers to reduce pesticide inputs and residues whilst still producing high quality produce, not only from regulators but also from retailers and processors whose customers are increasingly demanding more sustainably produced products.
Fortunately, there are tools compatible with the changing environment to help growers with these significant challenges and, with the toolbox reducing significantly over the next few years, growers are increasingly looking to use biological control products like Carpovirusine, which is based on a viral pathogen of codling moth larvae and when ingested results in mortality without the risk of residues or of impacting beneficial predators.
For two years UPL has been running trials in collaboration with NIAB East Malling and found that using Carpovirusine has resulted in improved control over the standard programmes using indoxacarb and chlorantrinipole. This research has shown that integrating biological control offers growers a great alternative to synthetic chemistry to provide effective Codling Moth control. When combined with green shelters for beneficial insects, pheromone disruption technology, and digital pest-monitoring systems, growers are increasingly using exciting biological technologies to help nature work for farming, rather than fighting against it.