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Fruit industry pest program expansion eyed

Grower views sought on whether OKSIR should go beyond control of codlingmoth By Judie Steeves


ontrol of other orchard pests could become part of the mandate of the Okanagan Sterile Insect Release (OKSIR) program if growers wish.

Having gained support at the B.C. Fruit Growers’ convention in January, the OKSIR board voted in February to partner with the association to canvas industry on changing pest management needs.

Beginning in March with grower consultations, the process is to include an online survey and informal chats with growers on the future direction of the program, which currently has a mandate to control codling moth, an alien pest of all pomme fruit such as apples and pears.

Acting general manager for the program, Melissa Tesche, explains the program could evolve to include area- wide monitoring of other pests, including apple clearwing moth and spotted wing drosophila, but the request to expand the program’s mandate would have to come from growers. As well, all regional districts in the program would have to approve such changes.

Following up on last year’s strategic planning process, which concluded with four goals for the program, including expansion of its scope, the board voted in favour of embarking on a process of grower engagement to come up with a ‘wish list’ for OKSIR, which would then be costed-out by technicians and would come to the board, growers and


regional districts as a series of options for the future. An independent facilitator will stick-handle the process this spring, first with growers, then with industry partners.

In order for the OKSIR to expand its mandate, provincial legislation would have to be amended. At the same time, the program has moved ahead with another of the goals from its strategic plan and general manager Cara Nelson is working on business development, pursuing potential partnerships with countries around the world to buy the program’s experience with sterile insect technology to control pests.

She reported to the board’s February meeting that she is working with


Melissa Tesche, acting manager of the Okanagan Sterile Insect Release program, which could evolve to include such pests as apple clearwing moth and spotted wing drosophila.

France, Germany and Italy on proposals to help them set up programs. Her temporary role doing such development work will be reviewed by the board at its May meeting. As well, the program is already selling excess production of sterile moths to

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AgSafe F ORME RL Y F AR SHA British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Spring 2016

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