Business & Real Estate

Why were plastic tents covering produce at the Sacramento Central Farmer’s Market?

It was an unusual sight at the Sacramento Central Farmer’s Market on Sunday -- plastic tents covered some stands to protect produce from the oriental fly infestation.

An infestation of the exotic invasive species was found in areas of Sacramento, county officials said Tuesday.

Dan Best, coordinator of the Certified Farmers Markets of Sacramento County, said the state Department of Food and Agriculture is requiring all farmer’s markets in some areas to cover stands with nets or plastic.

Fourteen flies recently were found at residences near the intersection of Stockton Boulevard and Elder Creek Road, according to a news release from Sacramento County. The flies are mostly males, but one female fly was found, indicating there will be additional breeding.

Crops are made inedible once a female fruit fly lays its eggs inside fruit. These eggs then hatch into maggots, which “tunnel through the flesh of the fruit,” according to the news release.

Best said the flies like to lay eggs in stone fruit, citrus and tomatoes in particular, and sellers of those items need to protect the produce to make sure no unsold fruit becomes contaminated and then is taken back to the areas where it was grown.

The Certified Farmer’s Markets of Sacramento County is still working to perfect its methods for protecting fruit, Best said. “Some things really didn’t work today,” Best said Sunday afternoon. “It was pretty unsightly.”

Related stories from Sacramento Bee