Cotonet continues to expand in Valencian citrus groves despite the efforts of producers to stop its spread. Since the prohibition of methyl chlorpyrifos, which will now only be exceptionally applied by the Department in those plots that have more than 60% damage, the low efficiency of the active ingredients and the proposed solutions are not generating the desired result against the plague and costing citrus growers time and money.
"This year is going to be very hard for many farmers, as they will most probably lose half to all of their harvests," stated Celestino Recatala a producer. There will be millions in losses, as the cotonet affects both citrus fruits and persimmons, Recatala stated. It is an expense that producers can't bear. As a result, many will have difficulties financing the treatments and will have to decide if they will abandon the crop, which highlights the need for more comprehensive measures, he added.
Producer Eduardo Perez has a similar opinion. Perez denounced the lack of controls that have led to this situation and recalled that, years ago, the Americans would carry out strict tests for months in the Valencian fields before exporting its products to the other part of the Atlantic.
Perez, like other producers, applies two to three treatments of authorized products to replace the prohibited insecticide. Unfortunately, the authorized products cannot eradicate the pest. "The expense is three or four times higher," he stated.
Apart from the cotonet, Valencia's citrus fruits also face other plagues that were introduced in the country with the importation of products and that are increasingly more aggressive, such as the red spider, the orchid thrips, or the red mite.
Meanwhile, the plague is already present in regions such as La Ribera and La Safor, and the conditions to start treating the crops with methyl chlorpyrifos once again are not favorable. Farmers have warned that it will be more profitable to sell what little production they have left rather than throw all their work overboard if they apply the pesticide.