MODESTO, Calif. - For a second consecutive year, the Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program (PESP) of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has selected the Almond Board of California as a PESP Champion.

The EPA praised the almond industry for "its steadfast commitment to reducing the impact of agricultural pesticides and its willingness to take a leadership role in developing and facilitating sustainable agriculture techniques and practices." (US EPA September 2004.)

The EPA cited the Almond Board's progress and success on several reduced risk activities and in particular the results of field studies to reduce Naval Orangeworm populations in almond orchards using pheromone mating disruption techniques. Navel Orangeworm is a native insect of the southwestern United States, which feeds on the dried, decaying, or damaged fruits of many trees.

In addition to almond orchards, this research will benefit other tree crops such as citrus, figs and pistachios that experience significant crop damage due to this pest.

Heavily invested

Chris Heintz, director of production research and environment at the Almond Board of California says "The industry has heavily invested in research on alternatives to traditional pest control for several years now. This research has not only benefited almond growers but is particularly exciting due to the potential of positively impacting other agricultural commodities vital to California".

"The almond industry has been a leader in conducting research on alternatives to traditional pest control," says Charles Burks, research entomologist with the San Joaquin Valley Agricultural Science Center. "This particular technique shows promise in being as effective as pesticide applications."

Agricultural practices are facing increased scrutiny in the area of environmental impact. The Almond Board has made environmental stewardship a primary concern and has been a leader in research, development, and promoting integrated pest management practices. In addition to research and implementation of innovative pest management techniques, the almond industry is making significant improvements and showing continuing commitment in the areas of air quality, water quality, crop protection, and endangered species.

The PESP is a voluntary EPA program that forms partnerships with pesticide users to reduce the health and environmental risks associated with pesticide use and implement reduced risk strategies.

The Almond Board of California administers a grower-enacted Federal Marketing Order under the supervision of the United States Department of Agriculture. Established in 1950, the Board's charge is to promote the best quality almonds, California's largest tree nut crop. For more information on the Almond Board of California or almonds, visit www.AlmondBoard.com.