FruitFlyNet-ii in Tunisia can reduce peach crop damage due to medfly

(from the left) Mr. Mokhtar Ben Mechichi, Pr. Mohamed Braham, Dr Hassib Ben Khedher and Ms. Sondoss Telmoudi

Professor Mohamed Braham and Dr. Hassib Ben Khedher, project coordinator and technical manager, respectively, of Centre Regional des Recherches en Horticulture et Agriculture Biologique (CRRHAB) in Sousse, Tunisia, made recently a visit to the experimental peach orchard belonging to Mabrouka society, where part of FruitFlyNet-ii project experimental tests will take place. During the visit, the team members had a meeting with Mr. Mokhtar Ben Mechichi, technical manager of the company and Ms. Sondoss Telmoudi, agronomic engineer and representative of Mabrouka society in the project, where they had the opportunity to discuss the problems caused by the Mediterranean fly in the peach orchards of the region.

- Is Ceratitis Capitata pest representing a real problem in your peach orchards? Can you estimate the losses caused by that pest (loss in production, affecting fruits size and its quality)?

Mokhtar Ben Mechichi : Ceratitis is a major problem in our peach orchards. As a result, we abandoned a variety because it is very sensitive to the attack of Ceratitis and we were obliged to treat it every 3 days. From our experience in Mabrouka, I can say that the fruit damage level by Ceratitis goes up to 80%.

- Is the attack of Ceratitis related to the cultivated varieties? If yes, can you explain this relationship? (depending on the early and late varieties)?

Sondoss Telmoudhi: As Mr. Ben Mechichi has just stated, we have abandoned a variety because of MedFly attack, I would like to point out that this variety is yellow-fleshed, late maturing and has a very high sugar content. So we can say that the attack of Ceratitis is related to the cultivated varieties.

- What kind of measures do you apply in order to protect your peach orchards?

S.T: We use the monitoring method and pheromone attractants. We also want to collect the damaged fruits after each harvest, we try to develop a cultural control. But this is not always sufficient.

 - What is your chemical control program against this pest (date of the beginning of the treatments, number of treatments, products used if possible)?

M.B.M : For the early varieties, we start the treatments at the end of May. We do not exceed two sprays. But for late varieties, we conduct 6 and 8 sprays with an interval of 9 to 10 days between the treatments.For chemical treatments, we use products like Deltamethrin, Dimethoate and we use spinosad as the last treatment.

- Do you consider that technology can provide a solution for this pest through an automated system proposed by FruitFlyNet-ii project for the monitoring of Ceratitis and targeted and localized treatments and thus reduce the use of chemicals?

M.B.M : I believe in monitoring to perform treatments and reduce the cost of chemical control. With the electronic traps proposed by the FruitFlyNet-ii project, we can tolerate 5 to 10% crop loss if it solves the ceratitis problem.