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California Olive Growers Concerned Drought Plan May Allow Fly Infestation To Worsen

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SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Olive growers are facing a big threat in the form of a tiny fruit fly that could end some olive oil production.

To make matters worse, they say an offer from an irrigation district to help families save money is instead backfiring and making the infestation worse.

Richard Wolf is happy to see as many olives as are in his trees currently, but it’s not guarantee the olive fruit fly won’t hit his crop again.

“We had 40 percent less oil production last year,’ he said. Others were hit worse, losing their entire crop.

Wolf says the local water district isn’t helping the infestation situation. He says the water district encouraged people to plant drought-resistant olive oil trees, which could save a family $500 a year on their water bill.

“People take advantage of that; they don’t want high water rates,” Wolf said.

But inexperience in farming is only adding to the problem. Olive trees must be carefully monitored and inspected by hand for fruit flies. If not, the infestation can spread to other growers.

Now Wolf and other growers are hoping the irrigation district requires those renewing their permits to show their pest plan to continue their water discount.

He’s already seeing the effects of last year’s infestation on one of this year’s popular oils.

“This year we will run out when it’s gone it’s gone I can’t make anymore so that’s pretty devastating,” he said.

Growers won’t know the full impact of the fly until the November harvest.

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