CDFA announced Monday it has awarded more than $544,000 to control a costly tomato pest. Project leader Dr. Brian Hogg, of USDA, and collaborators will receive funding for “proactive classical biological control of Tuta absoluta in California" for research to be conducted over the next three years.

The grant came as a part of the Proactive Integrated Pest Management Solutions grant program, which provides funding to identify and control exotic pests. The program is uniquely focused on T. absoluta, a pest larva that damages tomato plants by boring into leaves, stems and fruits. The bug originated in South America, but has since caused severe crop losses in parts of Europe, Asia and Africa.

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The pest, also known as tomato leafminer, is predicted to soon arrive in California, a state known for its $1.2 billion dollar tomato industry. The CDFA funding will go toward providing California producers with accessible biological solutions for managing an invasion with minimal damage, according to the release.

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