Mid-Atlantic apple growers lost $37 million last year from damage caused by the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) to the 2010 apple crop, according to an estimate released by the U.S. Apple Association (USApple). The damage estimate was developed at the request of federal scientists researching ways to control the newly invasive pest. Although growers suffered financial loss from this pest, the Mid-Atlantic region overall has continued to provide quality apples for the 2010 crop year.
The BMSB is an invasive pest originally from Asia, which researchers believe arrived in Allentown, PA, in the mid 1990s and rapidly moved to neighboring states. USDA reports it has been found in 33 states and the District of Columbia. In 2010, BMSB populations increased dramatically in the Mid-Atlantic and caused unprecedented damage to specialty and field crops.
“What makes the BMSB such a particularly serious threat is the very wide variety of plants on which it feeds, from apples and other tree fruit, to vegetables, and field crops like corn and soybeans,” said Mark Seetin, USApple’s director of regulatory and industry affairs. “The loss to apple growers of $37 million in income in a single year is a very serious matter. Better methods of controlling this pest are badly needed.”
USApple’s loss estimate was developed using inventory data from apple storage facilities that the association collects on a monthly basis, along with data provided by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). Included in the estimate are the four Mid-Atlantic apple producing states of Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia, where the severity of BMSB damage varied from state to state.
“The nearly unprecedented threat posed by the BMSB calls for an immediate and coordinated research program to address the potentially devastating impact of this newly invasive pest on U.S. agriculture,” said Seetin. “USApple strongly urges that additional federal resources be directed to this critically needed research effort.”
USApple has been an active member of two USDA task forces created to develop and coordinate research efforts on methods to control the BMSB, and to identify the best available crop protection technology that growers can use in the near term.