An integrated pest management program for the Australian almond industry (AL16009)
What was it all about?
From 2017 to 2022, this investment delivered an integrated pest management program for almonds through providing growers with a toolkit of effective practises, new technologies, and practical guidelines. A range of resources are now available on the Almond Board of Australia website.
The project delivered foundational research that identified orchard hygiene as a major factor influencing the persistence and escalation of pest populations and damage to new crops. The research evaluated different on-farm (nut destruction) machinery to guide growers in their hygiene practices and provided data to promote effective sampling and monitoring practices.
Research in applied chemical ecology saw the development of a new powerful lure to attract carpophilus beetles. This was achieved through the identification and synthesis of the aggregation pheromone of the Carpophilus beetle species attacking almonds and the design of a new “co-attractant” as a synergistic odour. Field trials have demonstrated the new lure to be 150 times more attractive at attracting the almond carpophilus beetle when compared to the commercially available lure for carpophilus beetles. Significant progress was also made in the development of a lure to attract female carob moth, with a prototype lure showing promise in field trials.
The project made headway in developing new biopesticides, identifying and culturing field-collected entomopathogenic fungi and screening these against carpophilus beetles. Several isolates caused high mortality in beetle larvae in laboratory trials, and studies will now progress towards small scale field trials. The potential for developing biocontrol for almond pests was explored through in-field surveys to identify natural enemies, and trial releases of Trichogramma. These latter releases (for control of carob moth) cast doubt over whether this parasitoid is suitable for biocontrol in the almond orchard environment.
Mating disruption has been trialled by industry to control carob moth, and the project conducted studies to identify why this system is not working effectively. Results showed that trap height was a major factor determining successful mating disruption and provided information to producers that might allow this strategy to be more successfully employed.
An analysis of post-harvest fumigation of almonds identified major shortcomings in the standard approach and an urgent need for new fumigation protocols to achieve effective disinfestation. It also found evidence that the almond industry is at risk of important pests developing strong resistance to a key fumigant, likely resulting from inadequate fumigation practices.
Research progress and findings were conveyed by the project to the almond industry through a series of field walks, webinars, fact sheets, industry articles, technical reports and an IPM workshop.
This project was a strategic levy investment in the Hort Innovation Almond Fund