According to estimates from the agricultural sector collected by the Plant Health Service of the Ministry of Agriculture, the different pests and diseases that affect the fruit and vegetable crops in the Region of Murcia can cause annual losses of up to 120 million euro. In the case of stone fruits, table grapes, and citrus fruits, these losses can reach 15%, while for horticultural species the losses can be close to 20%.
In vegetable crops, the presence of disease-transmitting vector insects, such as whiteflies and thrips, as well as the presence of viruses, such as the tomato browning, among others, are the most significant problems in the Region. These problems are greater in fruit plantations due to the presence of insects such as aphids, thrips, and the fruit fly, which are very expensive to control.
"The negative impact of pests, weeds, or pathogens is quite significant in the Region's crops. However, the incidence is unpredictable. It fluctuates every year forcing us to be continually on our toes checking the fields to predict what we are going to face each year," stated Pedro Gomez, a doctor in Biological Sciences and researcher of the CEBAS-CSIC that is an expert member in Virology within a working group belonging to the European Food Safety Authority.
Gomez spoke about the recent pests that are putting Valencian farmers in check, such as the new cotonet (Delottococcus aberiae) pest in the Valencian Community or the mealybug Pulvinaria polygonata in the Vega Baja.
"These pests have been in the Region for many years and do not require establishing an eradication plan," the Department of Plant Health stated. Thus, the measures adopted are the responsibility of the farm owners, with little intervention from the administration. "Currently, the administration is only establishing containment measures for the almond wasp, a pest that appeared recently and is affecting some 600 hectares in the Altiplano region," they stated.