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Susete do Rocio C. Penteado, Marta de Fátima Vencato e Leticia Andréia Nichele

The first, Researcher and the next two, Embrapa Florestas Analysts


Quality management in wood wasp control

Based on data for 2021, published in the Brazilian Tree Industry Report, pine plantations in Brazil total 1.93 million hectares, with around 88.9% concentrated in the South region, with Paraná and Santa Catarina as the main producing states. The wood is used for the production of multiple market products, including softwood pulp and paper, reconstituted wood panels and, mainly, the solid wood industry (sawmills and laminators).

The wood wasp (Sirex noctilio) is the main pest of pine plantations in Brazil. Originating in Europe, Asia and North Africa, it was first recorded in the country in 1988, bringing much concern to the forestry sector dependent on this raw material. The major problem associated with this pest is that it attacks live and adult trees, generally from the seventh year onwards, leading them to death, which can occur a few months after the attack. Furthermore, she is attracted to stressed trees and has a high reproductive capacity.

Due to the damage caused by this pest and the urgency to control it, in 1989 the National Wood Vespa Control Program was created, as well as the National Fund for the Control of Forest Pests, which provides financial support to the Program National Wood Wasp Control. This program provides for the implementation of preventive measures, mainly through thinning; monitoring of pest presence and attack levels; biological control, through the use of natural enemies; and technology transfer, mainly aimed at training professionals in the forestry sector.

The main wood wasp control measure is the use of a nematode, Deladenus siricidicola , which sterilizes the females of the insect and is specific for this pest, which makes its use safe. It was introduced by the CSIRO, in Australia, and has been massively produced at the Forest Entomology Laboratory of Embrapa Florestas since 1990, being distributed to pine producers who have the pest in their plantations.

Although the nematode has already established itself as a product with proven efficiency in controlling the wood wasp, the need was felt to standardize the internal processes involved in its production. Therefore, Embrapa Florestas implemented the Quality Management System, aiming at reliability and traceability, providing continuous improvement of its processes.

Thus, the entire Nematode Mass Rearing process was described in “Standard Operating Procedures”, so that the activities are carried out with a defined quality standard, aiming at obtaining a safe and efficient product. In addition, forms were established for recording nematode production data.

The process, from the production of nematode doses to the final consumer receiving the product, was modified and standardized, creating the possibility of traceability at all stages of execution. Internal audits are carried out annually with the aim of verifying compliance with the requirements established in the specific standard.

The actions carried out by Embrapa Florestas also enabled the registration of the product, called Nematec, with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply, having also obtained the trademark and identity registration with the National Institute of Intellectual Property, as well as the Environmental Licensing for use of the product in the states of Paraná (Paraná Agricultural Defense Agency), Santa Catarina (Integrated Agricultural Development Company of Santa Catarina) and Rio Grande do Sul (State Foundation for Environmental Protection).

Currently, the partnership between Embrapa Florestas and the Cearense Foundation for Meteorology and Water Resources brings together around 120 forestry companies linked to the pine production chain, to which an average of 8,000 annual doses of the product are sent for use in the attacked plantations. Also, to ensure the efficiency of the product in controlling the pest, training events are held aimed at the quality of the process of using Nematec in pine plantations, aimed at producers, technicians from forestry companies and service providers.

It is important to point out that the estimated damage caused by the wood wasp attack in Brazil is up to 53 million dollars per year, also considering harvesting costs, and 25 million dollars per year, when considering standing wood. However, combined with other measures provided for in the National Wood Wasp Control Program, the use of Nematec provides a reduction in losses of less than 70% and keeps the pest under control.