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Alexandra Lacoste, AOP Cerises et Raisin de table:

Pests and competitiveness: what solutions for the cherry and table grape sectors?

High pest pressure for one and strong competition for the other: what solutions can be found to save the cherry sector and revive the table grape one? These two issues were discussed by producers and researchers on June 12 in Mazan (Vaucluse), during a field day organized by the AOP Cerises et Raisin de Table. Alexandra Lacoste, head of the organization, provides an overview of the day's activities and the technical and economic challenges facing the two sectors.

Cherry: insectproof netting and biological control
For several years now, cherry growers have had to cope with ever-increasing parasite pressure (increasing attacks by the fruit fly Drosophila suzukii and also the Rhagoletis cerasi), as well as the gradual disappearance of active solutions (dimethoate in 2016 and phosmet in 2022). The industry has repeatedly alerted public authorities to this issue, as existing alternatives have proved inconclusive. So, what solutions are available to growers? Among those presented on June 12: insect-proof netting, in which some growers are investing thanks to subsidies and support from the French government and several regions, as well as a research program on biological control, with tests currently underway. "Nicolas Borowiec, a researcher at INRAE (Institut Sophia Agrobiotech in Antibes) and head of the Biological Control Research and Development program, presented the initial results of tests carried out with Ganaspis cf. brasiliensis G1 (GbG1). In 2023, the Ecophyto SUZoCARPO project was launched, aiming to carry out the first field introductions of GbG1; 5 releases were carried out in 2023. "It remains to be seen how this predator will establish itself and fight, but for the time being it remains an experiment", warns the director.

INRAE has been working on the subject of Drosophila suzukii since 2012 (the first damage caused by the pest was reported in France in 2010), starting with field studies in France to find out whether local parasitoid species were capable of successfully parasitizing the Drosophila suzukii.

At the beginning of 2024, as part of the Cherry Emergency Plan launched by the French Ministry of Agriculture to support the industry, specific funding was provided to boost the development of biological control of D. suzukii, including additional releases and monitoring.

Other solutions are currently being tested, such as the ones led by the La Tapy regional experimentation station, presented by Aliénor Royer: essential oils, calendar modifications, and other anti-insect nets.

Table grapes: a promising new variety?
While the objective of reducing the use of phytosanitary products is forcing the industry to move towards resistant varieties, in the face of stiff competition from European and Southern Hemisphere production, varietal research must come up with something new. "We're in a market dominated by other origins, present on the shelves 12 months out of 12 - France currently only produces 25% of national consumption - so if we introduce a new variety, it has to offer something extra to the grower as well as to the consumer, particularly when it comes to taste. For several years, the industry has been conducting a varietal research program to develop varieties naturally resistant to mildew and powdery mildew. This program is led by researchers at INRAE-IFV, CTIFL Antenne La Tapy, in partnership with the national AOP Raisin de Table, and supported by the Conseil Départemental de Vaucluse and the Région Sud.

This new white variety, resistant to mildew and oidium, was presented by Loïc Lecunff of the Institut français de la vigne et du vin (IFV) and Benjamin Pierron CTIFL La Tapy. It was planted on an experimental basis with several Vaucluse growers. After very positive consumer tests in terms of taste, "it will be the subject of larger-scale commercial tests as soon as it goes into production, to see if it can become an addition to our range of varieties".

Present at the field day: Jean-Christophe Neyron, cherry grower, president of the Association d'Organisations de Producteurs "Cerises de France"; Nicolas Borowiec, researcher - entomologist at INRAE and member of the "Research and Development in Biological Control" team, in charge of the Drosophila suzukii control program; Christian Roux, table grape grower, President of the Association d'Organisations de Producteurs "Raisins de France"; Loïc Le Cunff, geneticist at the Institut français de la Vigne (Inrae, Montpellier).

For more information:
AOP Cerises de France
AOP Raisin de Table
Maison de l'Agriculture
Site Agroparc 84912 Avignon
Tel.: 04 90 27 12 64
[email protected]
[email protected]

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