Virginia Creeper Leafhopper Project Recognized with IPM Innovator Award

IPM Achievement AwardOn January 26, 2017, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) recognized the Virginia Creeper Leafhopper Project with an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Innovator Award. The Virginia Creeper Leafhopper Project was one of six groups awarded for innovative work in integrated pest management.

The organizations were recognized for their efforts to manage pests while using fewer pesticides, and their innovation, leadership, education and outreach. The projects use integrated pest management to manage pests, combining preventive and natural strategies such as releasing parasitic insects and providing habitat for natural predators.

Background on the Virginia Creeper Leafhopper Project

According to the 2016 IPM awards page, “In 2011, a tiny insect, the Virginia creeper leafhopper (VCLH), showed up in Mendocino and Lake counties, causing severe losses of wine grapes. By 2014, the new leafhopper had spread across thousands of acres and was devastating vineyards. Some organic growers began using conventional pesticides to stay in business.

“UC Cooperative Extension, grower-collaborators, the Lake County Wine Grape Commission, and the Mendocino County Farm Bureau collaborated to provide newsletters, videos, and field days to teach growers to recognize the new leafhopper and its natural enemy, a tiny parasitic wasp that lays its eggs in leafhopper eggs. However, the plentiful natural enemies weren’t doing their job in Mendocino and Lake Counties.

“Researchers brought in a new, effective strain of the wasps from the Sacramento Valley, which are now reproducing quickly on their host in the lab and are becoming established in the counties. Eventually, the wasp will enable both conventional and organic growers to reduce synthetic pesticides used to combat the new leafhopper.”

According Glenn McGourty, Viticulture and Plant Science Advisor, UCCE-Mendocino County, the partnership between public agencies with support from the grower community was critical to the success of the Virginia Creeper Leafhopper Project.

“The private sector by itself is unlikely to take the time or spend the money on a problem like this,” he says. “That’s why the university is so important. It’s set up to do this kind of research. But we’re also very dependent on growers and other agencies. We have a lot of support in the grower and pest management communities.”

This view was also expressed in a statement by Broc Zoller and Bill Oldham, who are agricultural pest control advisors, winegrape growers in Lake County, and members of the Lake County Winegrape Commission: “This was really a great example of a cooperative system of public and private at work… Working with University of California Berkeley scientist Dr. Houston Wilson as well as UCCE Farm Advisors, Glenn McGourty, and Ryan Kieffer was an opportunity to learn about the Virginia Creeper Leafhopper and its natural enemies. We have been fortunate in Lake County to be able to grow winegrapes with fewer insect pests and lower pesticide use than some other areas. The introduction of VCLH is a threat to this ease of production. Pesticides needed to control VCLH in some cases can also potentially affect populations of beneficial insects needed to maintain control of other pests.”

“This project is very close to my heart,” says Randy Krag, vineyard manager at Beckstoffer Vineyards in Lake County. “I have a graduate degree from UC Davis in Integrated Pest Management. We really strive to be leaders in pest management science and technology in Lake County, and I’m pleased to see cutting-edge work going on here.”

The Virginia Creeper Leafhopper Project team included the University of California Cooperative Extension, the Lake County Winegrape Commission, the Mendocino County Farm Bureau, and winegrape growers in Lake and Mendocino counties. More information is available at http://ucanr.edu/sites/vclh/ or by contacting:

Glenn McGourty
Viticulture and Plant Science Advisor, UCCE-Mendocino County
Phone: (707) 463-4495
Email: gtmcgourty@ucanr.edu

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