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For Immediate Release
April 25, 2001
Release #CDFA01-037
Contact: Jay Van Rein
Steve Lyle

Searching for the Sharpshooter:
CDFA'S Inspection Program Detecting Few Insects on Nursery Shipments

SACRAMENTO-The California Department of Food and Agriculture's (CDFA) Pierce's Disease Control Program (PDCP) has detected just 17 glassy-winged sharpshooter egg masses during intensive inspections of over 17,000 truckloads of nursery plants moving northward through California so far this spring.

"The low rate of detection means these nurseries and county agricultural commissioners are doing their level best to keep this pest from spreading," said PDCP Statewide Coordinator Bob Wynn. "Both CDFA and these nurseries have invested tremendous resources in this effort, and a 99.9% success rate is evidence of their hard work, so far. Nurseries located in the infested Southern California counties have cooperated with this program from the start, at a very high cost to their companies, and we are fortunate to be able to depend on their expertise and diligence."

The program regulates plant movement as part of a coordinated statewide program designed to prevent severe agricultural and economic damage due to Pierce's disease spread by the glassy-winged sharpshooter. Pierce's disease infects grapevines, effectively chocking the tissues that deliver water and nutrients throughout the plant. Infected vines usually die within a few years. The disease has been present in California at relatively low levels for decades, but is cause for heightened concern because the glassy-winged sharpshooter, newly arrived from the southeastern U.S. and northern Mexico, can spread it much more rapidly than native insects. The program is designed to contain the spread of the disease and the insects until researchers find an effective treatment or cure.

In addition to inspecting loads of nursery plants, the PDCP also regulates the movement of bulk grape and citrus shipments to further minimize the threat of transporting the glassy-winged sharpshooter to uninfested northern counties.

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