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North Stockton farmers fighting invasive Oriental fruit fly

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Posted: Tuesday, September 27, 2011 3:14 pm | Updated: 7:12 am, Wed Sep 28, 2011.

Farmers in Stockton and the southern tip of Lodi who are in harvest with tomatoes and bell peppers are racing against the clock to get them to market before the Oriental fruit fly gets to them.

Scott Hudson, San Joaquin County’s agricultural commissioner, told the Board of Supervisors today that crops were in danger unless swift action was taken.

The first two Oriental fruit flies were found on Sept. 8 north of downtown Stockton, Hudson said. Five days later, there were seven such flies. A quarantine was quickly set over a larger area. The quarantine area extends north to about halfway between Armstrong and Eight Mile roads.

Hudson said that crews from the California Department of Food and Agriculture began stripping fresh-market produce like tomatoes and bell peppers in the area, and treatments that kill male flies were applied to stop reproduction.

Fresh-market crops that haven’t been harvested yet, such as grapes and walnuts, must be treated once a week for four weeks to protect them from the Oriental fruit fly, Hudson said.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

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