CASE STUDY -- Methyl Bromide Alternative
Using The Systems Approach to Achieving Quarantine Security for Codling Moths in Apples and Cherries as an Alternative to Methyl Bromide
The systems approach has been successful in providing quarantine security for codling moths in the apple and cherry markets. The systems approach has been defined as "the integration of those pre-harvest and post-harvest practices used in production, harvest, packing, and distribution of agricultural commodities which cumulatively meets the requirements for quarantine security" (Jang and Moffitt 1994). This is a holistic approach of pest control which minimizes pests moving from the field to storage and can significantly reduce the occurrence of pests being transported with the commodity.
The Systems Approach as a Quarantine Treatment
Quarantine security is necessary to ensure that pests do not enter a geographic location where they do not currently exist. Security is accomplished by enforcement of phytosanitary requirements of the importing country. Although U.S. produced cherries consumed domestically are not treated with methyl bromide, due to international phytosanitary regulations, methyl bromide fumigation is applied to apples and cherries destined for export to Japan and Korea.
To meet import regulations for Japan and the Republic of Korea, apples and cherries produced in the United States are fumigated with methyl bromide post-harvest to kill codling moths, larvae, or eggs which have infested the finished products. Because methyl bromide has been shown to be highly effective against codling moth in apples and cherries (Moffitt and Burditt 1983), in 1992, these commodities were treated with 201 metric tons of methyl bromide (119 metric tons for apples and 82 metric tons for cherries). This total of 443,000 pounds represents about 1 percent of the annual methyl bromide application in the U.S. (UNEP 1995).
Although the systems approach to controlling codling moths is a proven, effective alternative to methyl bromide in the apple and cherry industries, methyl bromide continues to be the required treatment for apples and cherries exported to Japan and the Republic of Korea. Ongoing negotiations between the Agriculture Departments of the U.S., Japan, and the Republic of Korea could lead to the elimination of methyl bromide requirements and substitution to an alternative approved control such as the systems approach.
Benefits of the Systems Approach
- eliminates need to fumigate finished
product with methyl bromide
- provides appropriate quarantine security
has been in used for 17 years
The Systems Approach
The systems approach has five distinct phases: 1) Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices in the field; 2) pre-harvest prevention-based techniques designed to reduce the occurrence of pests on the produce when it arrives at the packinghouse; 3) post-harvest removal by workers of insect-infested or damaged fruit; 4) inspection and certification of the packed fruit; and 5) shipping and distribution of the commodity (Moffitt 1994; Jang and Moffitt 1994). These phases are described in greater detail below.
Phase 1: Using IPM practices to reduce or limit the pest population in the field is the first step in the systems approach. Pest surveys and sampling, together with predictive models can determine the pest population in the field, and appropriate control measures, such as selective use of chemical treatments, can be made.
Phase 2: The focus of the second phase of the systems approach is preventing the occurrence of pests breeding in the commodities before they are harvested. This phase of the systems approach is based on an understanding of the relationship between the pest and the host commodity. Accurate knowledge of the biology of the pest and the state of the commodity at harvest may reveal specific seasonal periods where infestation may not occur or would be limited. Factoring this information into planting decisions may result in fewer pests to eliminate in the later phases of the systems approach.
Phase 3: Post-harvest removal of insect-infested or damaged fruit involves specific house packing procedures such as culling, grading, sorting, and packing. Workers visually inspect the fruit for signs of insect infestation and remove suspect fruit before packing.
Phase 4: Final inspection and certification of the fruit must occur to ensure that the pest control procedures have worked. These activities are carried out by USDA in cooperation with representatives of the importing country.
Phase 5: Shipping and distribution practices support pest control by breaking up large quantities of fruit into marketable sizes, separating the few remaining insects and eliminating the possibility that they mate and regenerate in the commodity.
The Systems Approach Controls Codling Moths in Apples and Cherries
The systems approach has been used to provide a high degree of security and to control codling moths in domestic cherry production since 1978 (Moffitt 1994). Studies of the systems approach have demonstrated its ability to achieve probit 9 quarantine security against codling moths in apples and cherries (Moffitt 1994).
- A 1989 study of the effectiveness of the systems approach in controlling codling moths in apples examined fruit from 31 orchards for the presence of codling moths prior to packing. Systems approach techniques were used in packing the fruit and the fruit was then inspected for the presence of codling moths. Of the 171,488 cull or off-grade apples inspected, only 10 were infested with codling moth larvae. Of the 501,537 apples packed for export, none were infested with codling moths.
- Information developed by the Washington State Department of Agriculture showed that of the 41,397,020 apples inspected for export over a five year period, only 33 were found to be infested with codling moth larvae. Further, information collected by the Department of Agriculture over a subsequent two and one-half year period showed that only 10 of 66,345,170 apples inspected were found to be infested with codling moth larvae.
- The systems approach has been successful in controlling codling moths in cherries, as well. According to the California Cherry Advisory Board and the Northwest Fruit Exporters, 629,509,100 cherries have been inspected using systems approach techniques during the 17 year period from 1978-1994, and no live codling moth larvae and only 7 dead larvae were detected (Moffitt 1994).
- The systems approach has also proved successful in providing a high degree of quarantine security codling moths in nectarines. A 1990 study of systems approach techniques in nectarine production noted that of the 328,000 nectarines inspected after packing, only 3 codling moth larvae were found (Vail et al 1994).
The data from these studies demonstrate that the systems approach is a viable, cost effective alternative to methyl bromide for controlling codling moths in apples and cherries for export to Japan and Korea. The systems approach techniques of IPM practices, post-harvest inspection, and packing techniques have been used for many years in the domestic production of apples and cherries. Regulatory requirements are the only impetus for methyl bromide treatment in apples and cherries. Because there will be no increased cost of production resulting from the elimination of methyl bromide use if the systems approach receives regulatory approval, it is believed that the systems approach is an economically viable alternative to methyl bromide fumigation for U.S. apple and cherry shippers.
EPA. 1994 (May). Methyl bromide consumption estimates. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Air and Radiation, Stratospheric Protection Division, Washington, D.C.
Jang and Moffitt. 1994. Jang, Eric B. and Harold R. Moffitt. "Systems Approaches to Achieving Quarantine Security." In Quarantine Treatments for Pests of Food Plants. Edited by Jennifer L. Sharp and Guy L. Hallman. Westview Press. Boulder, Colorado.
Moffitt. 1995 (February 16 and April 24). Moffitt, Harold R. Personal Communication. Fruit and Vegetable Insect Research, USDA Agricultural Research Service. Yakima, Washington.
Moffitt. 1994. Moffitt, Harold R. "A Systems Approach to Meeting Quarantine Requirements for Apples and Sweet Cherries as an Alternative to Fumigation with Methyl Bromide." A Report of the Fruit and Vegetable Insect Research, USDA Agricultural Research Service. Yakima, Washington.
Moffitt and Burditt. 1983 (November/December). Moffitt, Harold R. and Arthur K. Burditt. "Gamma Rays Control Codling Moths." Agricultural Research, Volume 32, Number 4, p.15 .
Vail. 1994. Vail, P.V. et al. "Quarantine Treatments: A Biological Approach to Decision-Making for Selected Hosts of Codling Moth." Journal of Economic Entomology, Volume 86, Number 1, pp. 70-73.
UNEP. 1995. Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, 1994 Report of the Methyl Bromide Technical Options Committee: 1995 Assessment. United Nations. Environment Programme, Ozone Secretariat, Nairobi, Kenya.
USDA. 1993. Fruit and Tree Nuts Yearbook. National Agricultural Statistics Service, United States Department of Agriculture. Washington, DC.
USDA. 1994. Noncitrus Fruits and Nuts. National Agricultural Statistics Service, United States Department of Agriculture. Washington, DC.
Please note that this publication discusses specific proprietary products and pest control methods. Some of these alternatives are now commercially available, while others are in an advanced stage of development. In all cases, the information presented does not constitute a recommendation or an endorsement of these products or methods by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or other involved parties. Neither should the absence of an item or pest control method necessarily be interpreted as EPA disapproval.
Visits since 1/26/96: