Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Fresh From Florida’

Article by Margie Pikarsky,
owner of Bee Heaven Farm, Redland FL

You’ve probably heard about the recent quarantine imposed on over 80 square miles of our Redland agricultural area. It’s because of what might be the absolute worst pest imaginable in a single package. Why? The Oriental Fruit Fly eats anything that even remotely looks like a fruit, and some other things too. It’s not from here, so there are no natural enemies.

Remember the Mediterranean fruit fly scares and quarantines? Well, the Medfly has a list of about 20 “host materials”, fruits. The Oriental Fruit Fly has a 14 PAGE list of just about every fruit you can think of, fruiting veggies like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, cucumber, luffa, snap beans, and even some ornamentals like jasmine, brugmansia, orchids and Ylang-Ylang. Get the idea just how devastating this fly could be if it gained a foothold here?

The Department of Agriculture monitors sentinel traps for several species of exotic pest flies, each baited with an irresistible sex lure that will draw in a fly if it’s somewhere in the vicinity. (Don’t worry, it’s not going to bring in flies where they aren’t already hanging around.) You may have seen some of these white triangular traps hanging on trees here and there. They’ve been around for years, silently guarding our crops from outbreaks.

Every once in a while, a fly shows up in a trap. Then FDACS goes on alert, sets out a bunch more traps around the area of the find, and monitors. Usually no more are found, and that is that.

This time, however, they found 5 locations close to each other where there this fly had set up shop, and they found, not just 1 fly, but at the worst location, 45 in a single trap! This meant they were breeding. It was a call to mobilize. You’ve never seen government agents, both from USDA and from FDACS, move so fast into position to set more traps and start canvassing the area to find out exactly where they are. Following a proven protocol, they defined a core boundary area within 1/2 mile of each find, a larger treatment area around the cores, and declared a quarantine area reaching out 4.5 miles in every direction from the core area. And they’ve stepped up monitoring a little outside the quarantine area too, just in case.

The absolute best way to treat this kind of invasion, they’ve found, is to use these same irresistible lures in baited traps. For the Oriental Fruit Fly (OFF), the lure is methyl eugenol, a naturally occurring substance that acts as a pheromone male OFF flies simply cannot resist. Where they have found females, a different type of trap, using a yeast-based lure, is set. Nearby trees are stripped of their fruit, and the soil beneath and around the immediate area is drenched with a poison to kill larva. Why the soil? Well, the female lays eggs in the fruit. The larva hatch, and before they’re ready to pupate, they fall to the ground and move into the soil. There they hatch into new flies. So to make sure the cycle is completely broken, they have to poison the soil. Sad but necessary.

In the meantime, fruit is NOT allowed to move around in the quarantine area, unless and until it is treated is a way to eliminate the possibility of inadvertently spreading the flies.

What does this mean to you? If you’re a homeowner in the quarantine area or have friends who live there, the simplest, best thing while the quarantine is in effect is:

1) Do not take fresh fruit off your property.
2) Do not accept fresh fruit from another property, not even your nana’s house.
3) Eat it on the property – have food parties!
4) Process it in your kitchen – freeze it, juice it, cook it, make jams & jellies. Once you’ve done that, you can take the finished product off the property without fear.
5) Dispose of all scraps and peelings in the approved way – double-bagged, sealed and placed in a covered garbage can that will go to the landfill.

For commercial or hobby growers, if you anticipate a large crop of something that is one of the 400+ listed hosts (avocados, squash, pitaya, for example), you can start a 30-day pre-harvest treatment protocol. Once 30 days have passed AND no flies were found near you, you can begin to harvest, while continuing the treatment. There are a couple of approved USDA treatment options, once of which IS approved for use in organic production.

The other option when harvesting, is to use a post-harvest treatment. There are very few treatments approved by the USDA for this purpose, and they mainly involve the use of methyl bromide with or without chilling for many days, or irradiation. Each type of fruit has its own protocol, and these treatments are not guaranteed to keep the fruit in good condition! For instance, most Florida avocado varieties simply cannot sit in refrigerator temperatures for days – it spoils the fruit and turns it brown. None of the post-harvest treatments are approved for use in organic production.

Nurseries and gardeners need to be careful. If potted plants are growing underneath fruit trees, the soil in the pots must be drenched with the poison to make sure no larvae dropping from above are lurking in the soil. If the plants are growing in a greenhouse or in the open away from trees, it’s not an issue and no special precautions need to be taken, other than to make sure no fruit is left to grow on the potted plants (young fruit trees shouldn’t be allowed to set fruit anyhow-while attractive to a potential customer, it’s like expecting an 8-year-old to have a child-damaging to the parent.

Anyone involved in production, handling, packing or selling of host plant materials (fruits, fruiting veggies, some ornamentals, palms, etc) in the quarantine zone or needing to transport in or out of the zone, needs to fill out a Compliance Agreement.

For extensive information about the fly, the quarantine areas, maps, rules, available treatments, latest finds, and more visit the Division of Plant Industry website at: http://www.freshfromflorida.com/Divisions-Offices/Plant- Industry/Pests-Diseases/Exotic-Fruit-Flies/Oriental-Fruit-Fly-Information

For help in completing the simple compliance agreement, reporting suspect flies, improper movement of fruit, or general information contact the HOTLINE at 888-397-1517.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Redland Raised, Fresh From FloridaRedland Raised launch event:
Thursday Oct. 29th, 10- 11 am
Publix at Tropicaire Shopping Center
7805 SW 40th Street, Miami

Starting this week, you won’t have to go too far to find locally grown produce. Redland Raised branded green beans, yellow squash, zucchini, boniato, okra and avocados will be available at all 1000 Publix stores in the state, during the local growing season which runs from November through April.

Miami-Dade County, Publix and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Fresh From Florida program teamed up to promote a “buy local” program throughout the county and state.

Charles LaPradd, Miami-Dade’s agriculture manager, was quoted as saying, “We were looking for a way to just make our local produce down here known a little bit better,” LaPradd said. “When you go local, you go green.”

Needless to say, larger local growers are delighted with this huge new market for their produce. Publix says the Redland Raised will help them keep transportation costs down, which should result in lower prices for customers, and a smaller carbon footprint.

Miami-Dade County’s agriculture industry is number two in the state (after Palm Beach County) and 18th in the country, generating an estimated $2.7 billion for the local economy.

On the Miami-Dade County web site, on the Office of the County Mayor’s page:

Buy Local, Redland Raised available at Publix

For South Floridians who want to buy local… the shopping experience is about to get even better. Thanks to a partnership with Publix Super Markets, more than 1,000 Publix stores will soon feature locally-grown fresh produce. The produce will be dubbed Redland Raised.

Along with ”organic”, ”buy-one-get-one-free”, and ”on sale” – Redland Raised can be the new buzz word in grocery store shopping. While Publix has always supported our local agriculture industry – shoppers who walk the produce aisle can now look for special labeling and displays that show when green beans, zucchini, avocados and more come from our very own backyard.

Redland Raised is a way to educate and encourage our residents to invest in local produce and in turn, stimulate our local economy. Miami-Dade County’s agriculture industry is number 2 in the state and number 18 in the country, generating an estimated $2.7 billion for our local economy.

I would like to thank Publix Super Markets for making it possible to promote our local brand, and for their continued investment in our community.

Enjoy Redland Raised!

Sincerely,
Mayor Carlos Alvarez

Read Full Post »