- Associated Press - Monday, July 6, 2015

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) - Eugene-area hazelnut farmers starting to use pheromones to save crops and reduce pesticide use.

Moth larvae ruin hazelnuts by burrowing inside and farmers are trying to reduce pesticides use by making it harder for male moths to mate, the Register-Guard reported (https://bit.ly/1JJyu2I ).

Oregon State University’s research lasted three years and was funded by Eugene’s water board and the Oregon Hazelnut Commission as part of an effort to reduce pesticides that can end up in the city’s only water source, the McKenzie River.

Oregon State University entomologist Vaughn Walton says filling the orchard air with female pheromones in a process called mating disruption keeps males from finding females and prevents mating.

The study found farmers using the alternative technique had to use pesticides about half as much.

“It’s costing more or less the same as chemical control,” Walton said.

Hazelnuts are an increasingly in-demand commodity that about doubled in value from the 2013 to 2014 season, reaching $3,600 per ton.

Garry Rodakowski has been growing hazelnuts for 45 years and says he hasn’t seen a similar growth period for the crop in three or four decades. He said moth larvae can cause a farmer to lose an entire crop if three out of 100 hazelnuts fail a “crack test” and open up to reveal wormy insides.

He said he’s always willing to try a new technique.

“I’ve lived on the McKenzie all my life so I want to see it kept clean,” he said.

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Information from: The Register-Guard, https://www.registerguard.com


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