How to Comply with Arcadia's Fruit Fly Quarantine

USDA officials say processing homegrown fruits and signing compliance agreements are the best tools to ending the Oriental Fruit Fly quarantine, which includes Arcadia

By Justin Chapman, Arcadia Patch, 1/18/2011

A little-known fruit fly quarantine in the Arcadia area and beyond is restricting the ability of local produce exchanges and farmer's markets to freely exchange citrus fruits grown in the area.
Officials from the US Department of Agriculture gave a presentation in Altadena last week on the Oriental Fruit Fly (OFF) quarantine area, which includes Arcadia.
The Oriental Fruit Fly poses no human health risk, meaning you can eat your own fruits without any threat to your health. 
However, it can be very damaging to homegrown fruits, so the USDA prohibits fruit that could be infested by fruit fly larva to be moved within or out of the area.
That means fruit cannot be shared even among neighbors, unless it has been treated, fumigated, or processed.
So what does that mean for fruit growers who want to avoid the use of pesticides?
Basically, you have to process it. Any method you can think of to use fruit that isn't eating it raw right off the tree would qualify.
According to USDA Plant Health Safeguarding Specialist Ernesto Marines, who gave the presentation, "processing can include freezing, juicing, dehydration, puréeing, or cooking the host material."
He added that processing is the best option for residents who want to share their locally grown fruits as long as the method used ensures that the life cycle of the fruit flies ends.
"Pre-harvest treatments require the use of pesticides, which most people don't want to use, and that's fantastic," Marines said. "Post-harvest treatments are too expensive and not economically viable."
The quarantine was declared Aug. 5, 2010, and is expected to end May 23, though that is only a target date and is flexible depending on whether more fruit flies are detected. The quarantine area totals 89 square miles.
The quarantine was issued after seven adult flies were detected on Sept. 20, 2010. Marines said three of the flies were female, and two of those had mated. The best way to combat the Oriental Fruit Fly, said Marines, is to sign compliance agreements with USDA so officials can better monitor the situation in the quarantine area.
The compliance agreements not only apply to residents, but also farmer's markets, nurseries, grocery stores, yard maintenance, and any entity or business that grows or sells host material.
"It's beneficial for growers, harvesters, and businesses to enter into compliance agreements with us," said Marines. "That way you can be informed about the situation sooner.
"The earlier you're informed, the more options you have under our regulations about when and where you can grow, sell, and share," he added. "Compliance agreements are the best means of handling this kind of situation. It's a tool of convenience."
Kristin Petherbridge of RIPE, an Altadena based produce co-operativce, said she hopes to organize another community meeting in the near future to get more residents and businesses to sign compliance agreements with USDA.
"It was intimidating at first when Ernesto Marines was telling me about the quarantine," said Petherbridge. "I thought this was going to be such a hassle and that we'd have to go through a lot of red tape, but then you get to find out more information and it really just becomes about being educated about what's involved and learning about the proper procedures to comply and then doing it. So I'm not quite as intimidated about it anymore."
Learn more about the Oriental Fruit Fly, the quarantine, and compliance agreements at