In experiments comparing conventional date paper wraps with polyester mesh bags, date bunches enclosed in polyester mesh bags had lower insect infestations than dates covered by paper wraps. Carob moth, Ectomyelois ceratoniae (Zeller), infestations of marketable fruit were significantly lower for mesh bags (0.6–3.1%) compared with paper wraps (8.5–15.5%). Other fruit pests [raisin moth, Cadra figulilella (Gregson), and beetles in the family Nitidulidae] were less common than carob moth, and infestation by these insects was consistently lower in fruit protected by mesh bags. Date bunches in mesh bag treatments had a 21–46% net increase in marketable date fruit owing to the fact that the bags prevented marketable dates from falling to the garden floor. The number of abscised kimri fruit was higher in the mesh bag treatment than the paper wrap treatment, yet there were no differences in the incidences of other fruit maladies (black nose, fruit with fungi, shriveled fruit, abscised khalal fruit, infertile fruit, and nonripe fruit). Bunch sanitation, used just prior to bagging and wrapping dates, successfully removed abscised kimri fruit from bunches, which resulted in a significantly lower number of cull dates from one garden, but this response was not present at a second garden. These studies show that mesh bags should be included in an integrated pest management program on dates.
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Vol. 108 • No. 2