Apple maggot is an insect pest with a wide host range and the potential to cause damage to about 55 plant species in 10 genera in the rose family (Rosaceae), including fruits such as apple, pear (Pyrus communis), and plum (Prunus domestica). Endemic to the eastern United States, apple maggot is widespread throughout the country, likely having been introduced to the Pacific northwestern United States, including Washington State, through the movement of infested apples (Sansford et al., 2016; Zhao et al., 2007). Fruit infested with apple maggot is unfit for human consumption, affecting marketing yields and, ultimately, profits. In the commercial production regions in which apple maggot occurs, it is usually controlled with typical pesticide programs already applied to commercial apple orchards. Yield and quality losses for commercial apple operations are usually minimal, only increasing if pest management fails (Sansford et al., 2016). For example, insecticide applications during the summer to control for codling moth, the most prevalent insect pest in eastern Washington apple-production areas, have proven effective against apple maggot if applied at appropriate times (Brunner, 2018a, 2018b; Brunner and Klaus, 1993).
In Washington State, costs associated with apple maggot control include direct and indirect costs. Direct costs include additional pesticide applications and cold treatment (40 d at 1 °C) under controlled conditions. Cold treatment is only required for orchards located in apple maggot–quarantine areas that ship fruit to specific export destinations (e.g., China and British Columbia, Canada). In this context, a quarantined area is any in which apple maggot is considered to be established (i.e., present, multiplying, and expected to continue) (Washington State Legislature, 2015). An indirect cost is the fruit price decline experienced after the additional storage period is imposed. Price decline is due to differences in apple inventories at harvest times. For example, early in the harvest season, when apple inventories are low, prices are higher than in the mid or late season, when inventories are high (Seetin, 2017).
The establishment of the apple maggot–quarantine area is part of a statewide strategy led by the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA), which regulates or excludes apple maggot host material grown or originating in apple maggot–infested areas (Washington State Department of Agriculture, 2017) to reduce the spread of apple maggot. These regulations also facilitate the movement of commercial fruit to domestic and international markets by providing shippers with WSDA documentation certifying that their fruit is apple maggot free. In addition, the WSDA conducts a yearly apple maggot–surveillance program with three goals: 1) determine areas that meet the official “pest-free area” designation, 2) monitor commercial orchards to determine whether they meet regulations for shipping fresh apples out of the quarantined areas, and 3) implement the apple maggot response plan when apple maggot is detected in pest-free areas (Washington State Department of Agriculture, 2017).
Although the increased direct costs associated with field control of apple maggot do not represent a large increase beyond normal pesticide control costs in conventional orchards, meeting control needs associated with export regulations for fruit coming from quarantined areas could affect profits even further. In addition, pest expansion could negatively affect organic apple production, which makes up about 12% of Washington apple acres and has fewer allowable control options (Kirby and Granatstein, 2018). The risks of a potential increase in apple maggot infestation in quarantined areas could negatively affect the apple industry and the state’s economy. The apple industry is of major economic importance to Washington State, representing the highest sales value of all crops. The state is the largest national producer (by volume and by value) of fresh apples, producing 65% of all fresh apples by volume and 73% of all fresh apples by value according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2017a) nationally. According to Globalwise, Inc. [Vancouver, WA (unpublished data)] and Belrose, Inc. [Pullman, WA (unpublished data)], the apple industry contributed an estimated $7.02 billion in direct, indirect, and induced economic activity to the Washington State economy and directly employed 38,000 individuals.
“The overall risk of entry of R. pomonella on MGW [municipal green waste] from the quarantined area to the PRA area is assessed as likely [emphasis original] to occur with low uncertainty.… Introduction (entry and establishment) of R. pomonella to the PRA area is likely to result in major economic impacts (with low uncertainty) resulting largely from the increased cost of control in commercial premises, particularly apple orchards, costs and losses related to the effects on export markets, as well as environmental impacts arising from increased pesticide use.” (Sansford et al., 2016)
The PRA recommended that a heat treatment be applied to municipal green waste to guarantee the eradication of apple maggot pupae before transporting waste to apple maggot–free areas (Sansford et al., 2016).
Although the PRA was biologically comprehensive, it did not assess the economic impact of increasing the risk of apple maggot infestation and establishment in apple maggot–free areas on the apple industry or on the state economy. This study calculates the current direct, short-term costs associated with apple maggot in quarantined and nonquarantined areas for conventional and organic apple production. In addition, we estimate the indirect and induced costs of a potential apple maggot spread in nonquarantined areas on the Washington State economy.
A 1982 study estimated that Washington’s commercial apple industry would incur additional spray costs and market opportunity losses of $25 million per year if apple maggot infestation became widespread in the state’s commercial apple-producing areas (Schotzko, 1982). Zhao et al. (2007) estimated that the industry would have experienced annual losses of $4 to $8 million from increased spray costs if apple maggot infestation had spread at its historic rates. They also analyzed the benefits of mitigating the spread of apple maggot and estimated that reducing the spread of apple maggot by 10% would result in benefits of $1.52 million per year for the whole economy (including apple consumers and apple producers in Washington and in other parts of the United States). Compared with these previous studies, our study provides updated direct estimates of the potential losses to the apple industry and the Washington State economy from a potential increase in apple maggot–threatened and –quarantined areas. To determine price declines as harvest season progresses, we calculated the inverse elasticity of supply for each apple variety. We also used partial budget and economic impact analyses to calculate the profit losses from a potential expansion of apple maggot.
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Partial budgets for apples produced in threatened and quarantined area (Area 1), given different pest-management strategies under low, moderate, and high codling moth pressure, Washington State.
Partial budgets for apples produced in threatened and nonquarantined area (Area 2), given different pest management strategies under low, moderate and high codling moth pressure, Washington State.
Partial budgets for apples produced in nonthreatened and quarantined area (Area 3), given different pest management strategies under low, moderate, and high codling moth pressure, Washington State.