Warmer, wetter summers have the potential to cause an explosion of Queensland fruit fly numbers in the Orange district.
Department of Primary Industries research horticulturist Andrew Jessup spoke to cherry growers in Nashdale this week about the potentially catastrophic effects of an incursion of the pest.
Other fruit growing areas have experienced issues with both interstate and international export markets as a result of the fruit fly.
“There have been problems with fruit flies, particularly in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area over the last two years due to unusual weather patterns. They’ve just exploded and become a serious pest,” he said.
Export markets can require fruit from affected areas to be stored at one degree for 16 days, which can be an expensive and inconvenient process.
Queensland fruit fly has not been a serious problem in Orange but could affect cherry and stone fruit growers if the weather patterns experienced over the past few years persist.
“Growers are concerned about it. It’s never been a massive problem here so they’re very keen to know what the insect looks like. Particularly around Orange, the pest is being monitored regularly,” he said.
A critical management technique in orchards is to quickly remove any fruit on the ground and left hanging on the tree, as well as using bait sprays or cover sprays if the problem becomes more serious.
Urban dwellers also have a role to play, particularly if they have a backyard fruit tree.
“The management of fruit fly in these regions is not only for orchardists, it’s for the whole community. Local councils should also be looking at abandoned orchards and feral fruit fly hosts,” Mr Jessup said.
The problem is being monitored by councils and state governments under the National Fruit Fly Surveillance Scheme.