Nov 15, 2006
Codling Moth Could Keep U.S. Apples Out of Taiwan

One more strike and U.S. apples are out for the season in Taiwan, according to the Northwest Horticultural Council.

On Nov. 8, Taiwan’s Bureau of Animal and Plant Health and Quarantine informed USDA that a codling moth larva was found in a shipment of apples from Washington state. It was the second codling moth detection during the 2006 season (the first was announced Sept. 27), constituting a “second strike” under the terms of an agreement between Taiwan and the United States. Three strikes per season result in the immediate suspension of U.S. apple exports to Taiwan, according to the Northwest Horticultural Council.

If the Taiwan market is closed after three codling moth detections, it will be difficult to reopen before the next crop year begins – about August 2007, said Mike Willett, the council’s vice president for scientific affairs.

As long as there are two strikes, apple shipments from all U.S. growers and packinghouses – except those involved with the codling moth detections – remain eligible for export to Taiwan, but will be subject to stringent inspection upon arrival, according to the council.

USDA conducted its own investigation after the second detection. Taiwan allows a grace period for inspections, so a third strike couldn’t occur until late November or early December at the earliest, Willett said.

Taiwan has closed its market to U.S. apples twice due to codling moth. In 2002, a single codling moth was found and the market closed for a month. The limit was increased to three detections after that. The market closed for a second time from December 2004 to April 2005 after three codling moth detections, Willett said.

Taiwan is one of the top five export markets for U.S. apples, so its closure has a big impact. Growers lost millions of dollars in sales and millions of crates of apples during the last two closures, he said.

“It’s extremely disruptive to the United States and our customers in Taiwan who normally expect to be able to buy apples,” Willett said.

About 10 percent of the exports from Northwest states – Washington, Oregon and Idaho – go to Taiwan. Those are the only states shipping apples during certain times of the year, he said.

USDA recently completed a risk assessment that found it extremely unlikely codling moths introduced in apples could successfully establish themselves in Taiwan. With that conclusion in hand, U.S. representatives were negotiating with Taiwan to eliminate market closure as a penalty for codling moth detection, Willett said.

“We’re not opposed to penalizing shipments that have detections,” he said, but “we don’t think market closure is justified.”

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