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Fighting codling moth and apple maggot in a food forest

 
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I have both of the above worms in my trees. Unfortunately, I can't raise chickens because they are specifically forbidden by the neighborhood agreement.  I have used zip locs and fruit sox, but I grow too many apples to do that anymore.  Any suggestions for how to take care of them in the food forest?
THanks,
John S
PDX OR
 
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My first apple tree fruited for the first time this year and made a few fruit, so not much to go on yet, but by having a really diverse food forest with lots of wild plants, it has provided habitat for tons of beneficial wasps and insects, and it seems like they are controlling the codling moths, apple maggots, and other bugs to a minimal level. I had a little damage this year, but it was very minimal.

If I see bugs in my food forest now, it's mainly beneficial bugs. I still see a few "pests", but the majority of them I see tend to be trapped in a spider web or in the clutches of a beneficial wasp or robber fly.

I put "pests" in quotations, because I'm starting to see them in a very different light. Up until very recently, I saw them as something that needed to be eliminated, or something I was fighting against. My view on them has completely changed though, and I look at them as a valuable partner, that has very valuable things to show me, and as a very beneficial part of the ecosystem. I'm starting to think that they are actually doing me a favor and are just doing their part to remove the problem varieties from the genetic pool.

Apples seem to be one of the most genetically manipulated crops that we humans have tinkered with. I think some of the apple breeding efforts have been awesome and delicious, but I also think that the bugs are just trying to tell us we are headed in the wrong direction with some aspects of our breeding. And of course they can't physically tell us what the problems are, they can just help to eliminate the varieties that may be a problem.

The good news is that there still seems to be a good amount of apple genetic diversity available today, and that some varieties are a lot more resistant to them, whether it be thicker and tougher skin, or harder or denser flesh, or the time that they ripen, when there are not many insects around. I've started to focus heavily on variety selection and future breeding goals to produce fruit that is naturally pest and disease resistant, and that are tough and thrive in my hot, humid, and bug and disease prevalent area.

Here's one of the apples I picked this year. It has a few cosmetic blemishes, but after rubbing it with a damp cloth, it comes right off, revealing a beautiful fruit. I actually like eating them better personally now without scrubbing them off. I tend to think that the microscopic organisms living on the skin could be extremely healthy and see the imperfections as beautiful in their own way, every apple becomes beautifully unique, and it's a constant reminder of the natural, no spray, and nutrient rich way in how they were grown.

Hope you get some tasty apples John!

Steve
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Beautifully imperfect apple
Beautifully imperfect apple
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If wanted, it can be easily scrubbed clean with just a cloth and water
If wanted, it can be easily scrubbed clean with just a cloth and water
 
Steve Thorn
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A few more apple, food forest, and beneficial critter pictures.
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unsprayed beautiful apple
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unsprayed beautiful apple
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no spray apple
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unsprayed beautiful apples
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frog on apple tree
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unsprayed beautiful apple
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bit from unsprayed apple
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bite of unsprayed apple
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unsprayed beautiful apple
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frog on apple
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praying mantis on apple tree
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praying mantis on bean plant
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cool gray frog in food forest
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assassin bug spearing caterpillar
 
John Suavecito
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Cool frogs, Steve. I like the idea of observing which apples are hit hardest by the worms and adjusting what we're growing to that.  I'm also trying to adjust my enormous harvest to mostly storage apples, because when you get this many, you aren't going to eat all of them in September.  It doesn't bother me too much that there is a worm in an apple for me to eat, but I can't  trade them, sell them, or even give them to the poor.  The agencies will throw them out because they don't think that poor people will eat them.  They might be right.
John S
PDX OR
 
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Those are beautiful apples Steve. I hope your diversity saves you from the coddling moth.

Pre Pemaculture, I was delighted to find out my front yard tree was an apple! Come harvest time, near half of every apple was rotten. They looked like these below.


webpage

I just dealt with the loss. It was a lot of work cutting out so much waste. One year, i had a late freeze that killed all my blossoms. I was sad. The following year, I had wonderfully pretty apples, not  a worm to be found. The freeze stopped the life cycle. There were no fruits for the moths to lay eggs on. Subsquent years I was able to keep the pests under control, by removing any fallen apples to decompose elswhere.

This site describes a number of organic controls.
 
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I've had the same issue in my food hedge this year, for the first time in over ten years.

I suspect here it could be a garden management issue - my autistic husband loves the garden because it's full of wildlife now. When we married, it was a bare monoculture of patchy, over-mowed lawn. But he grew up being ordered by his very keen gardener but conventional tidiest-garden-in-the-street mother to eradicate every single understory plant and leave bare earth. And to rake up and throw away every fallen leaf. It's almost impossible for him to overcome those ideas of what a garden "should" be.  

Well, I'm very grateful he let me plant a hedge, so we now have the messiest but most productive garden in the street. Problem is, the soil is being starved of nutrients. At least he doesn't use weedkillers any more, managed to get him to stop that. And he will water and foliar spray with seaweed extract.

The other problem is that the apple trees were supermarket-bought bare-rooted Golden Delicious. Bred for commercial growing with lots of chemicals. Next time, I'll take the slower route of planting loads of seeds and seeing what grows and fruits.

No answer for your problem, John, but I noticed another permie in the UK commenting she'd had Codling moth and apple maggot issues this year, too.

The excess apples - could they still be used for making cider or vinegar? A local cider press might be able to use them.
 
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I will second the notion of learning to live with the pests. Wormy fruit appeals a lot more to me than eating something that has been hosed with nerve agents. I think there might be organic spray options out there, but any spraying is a real hassle, and it is not foolproof.

When I want apples for storage and fresh eating, I sort out the nicest ones at harvest. A quick glance will tell you if something has bored into the core - there is either a brown spot on the side, or frass at the blossom end. If it looks good, set it aside; everything else goes into the cider press. You can grind up some GNARLY looking apples and still make delicious cider. I cut any really suspicious-looking fruit in half and trim off anything that is outright gross, but a little bit of worm damage makes no difference in the world. The first year making cider, I spent hours trimming the fruit. I removed the cores, trimmed off every blemish, and it really ... made no difference.

 
Steve Thorn
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John Suavecito wrote: I'm also trying to adjust my enormous harvest to mostly storage apples, because when you get this many, you aren't going to eat all of them in September.  



Yes, me too, storage apples are where it's at! It's so nice when they store for at least 3 months or longer. It seems like these apples are also the ones that are generally more bug resistant as well.
 
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John Suavecito wrote:I have both of the above worms in my trees. Unfortunately, I can't raise chickens because they are specifically forbidden by the neighborhood agreement.  I have used zip locs and fruit sox, but I grow too many apples to do that anymore.  Any suggestions for how to take care of them in the food forest?
THanks,
John S
PDX OR



Here are a couple of ideas, as you have a couple of problems:
First, the neighborhood agreement: these things are rarely etched in stone and after all, YOU are a neighbor too. Often, these objections are raised by one or two influential people, and the rest just nod along. Try to figure out the objections and the objecting actors, then find a parade to them [like raising hens *only* to reduce noise]. I'm not sure what neighborhood you have, or what neighbors, but there is no reason you might not have  as strong an influence  as they do.
Second, "Know thine enemy". You will find good tips that could but do not have to involve chemicals: https://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/insects/codling-moth-control-in-home-plantings-5-613/
Even sites such as these that talk about Carbaryl offer other ideas, sometimes good ones. I didn't know about banding the trees with cardboard, for example, or removing any loose bark. Knowing the habits and life cycle of the moth is the best way to be timely with any method to dispatch the pest. Chickens would be the easiest and cheapest as they will keep the area a lot cleaner. That might be an argument that your neighbors might be sensitive to? The pests that you kill with your chickens will not bother *their* crops, pretty flowers, manicured lawns? Plus, stacking the functions, you get meat and eggs].
 
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Pheromone traps. Usually used by commercial operations to just detect so they know when to spray. BUT somebody kindly pointed out to me that if you only have a few trees, a trap or two can be enough to become a deterrent or at least help knock down the numbers of the offending moths. I deployed pheromone traps for coddling moths that were effecting my peach tree and it did seem to help. I used vivagrow.com
 
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Does the neighborhood agreement also prohibit "pet" pigs like a kunekune?  They are not very destructive if you have your garden crops isolated or raised.
 
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The apples on our trees at the community garden used to be riddled with codling moth.  Last year we hung pheromone mating disruptor loops in all the trees prior to bud burst.

It was far more successful than expected  - it can take several years to break the cycle but combined with underplantings of comfrey and borage to encourage beneficial insects and clearing away windfalls, it worked really well.

The old loops can be left on the tree and new ones have to be hung up each year. The brand that we used are called Isomate CPlus. The are only sold in packs of 400 because they are mainly used in commercial orchards but a member of a tree crops group that I belong to buys them every year and repackages them to send to members.

Perhaps you can get a few people together to share the cost of some loops.
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Pheromone disruptor loop on an apple tree
Pheromone disruptor loop on an apple tree
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Community garden orchard
Community garden orchard
 
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I have 5 pest prone fruit trees and I've started using tree nets. I keep the trees pruned smallish, mainly for ease if harvesting without a ladder, so the nets are not too hard to get over the trees. They do need mending every year as twigs will grow through them. But they protect the fruit very well, better than traps, with a lot less work than bagging individual fruit or trying to keep up with sprays. You can fashion your own using mosquito netting or row cover. (I use mosquito netting intended for hammocks)

I have been thinking of I wanted to go plastic free, the clay spray would be a way to go. That would be my second choice.
 
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Many years ago I was able to visit the rodale test orchard in Pennsylvania.  I wasn't even gardening at the time as we were renters.
Anyway, the orchard had 2 sections one untreated and the other sprayed with clay.
The trees sprayed with clay looked like they were covered in a light gray ash, the woman there said the apples had no pests.
I've been wanting to try this method but never have gotten around to it.

 
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Our place has a little orchard that the former owners planted, including 5 apple trees of different varieties. Soon after moving in I learned about coddling moths.  In nearly every Apple.  I don’t use and kind of pesticide or herbicide. I implemented advice as I found it, and  I check apples thoroughly before eating them or preserving them.  Here are some things I learned from various sources (previous owner, books and internet,   Clackamas Community college demonstration project).  This year I found only about 1 in 4 had been hosts to the moth larva.

1.  Never let windfall apples lie.
2. Sticky traps: about 2 feet above ground, do the sticky traps where you wind a strip of paper around the trunk and coat it with sticky stuff. It’s not poison - it’s a trap.  Apply liberally at edges to make a seal.
3: thin the clusters
4: Clackamas Community College did a demonstration project where they placed nylon socks (like the kind that sho store use) over apples when they were still tiny and had amazing results.  Unfortunately, while doing a quick search to find a link to the project I couldn’t find it, but instead found that COVID has squelched the Home Or hard Society. Not sure why documents are gone. Maybe my search skills aren’t up to it.  I did try this and as long as the socks don’t slide off, it is very effective, though incredibly time consuming and I could only reach where my 8’ orchard ladder took me.

However, I did just now stumble across a newsletter that contains an article that provides even more advice, some of which is easier to do.  Below I provide the link to the newsletter. I also copied and pasted the specific article in case that publication also disappears from the internet (or evades identification using ordinary search skills).

https://wcfs.org/wp-content/uploads/2018_02_Spring_BeeLine.pdf
Codling Moth (Cydia Pomonella) and Management Using CYD-X1
Sue Ryburn, Cooperative Workstudy Student, Clackamas Community College, Molalla, Oregon
Codling moth (Cydia pomonella) is the most serious pest of apples in the Pacific Northwest, especially in warmer and drier areas. Larvae feed directly on the fruit, either by “stinging” it or boring into it and feeding from within. Stings are shallow depressions where feeding occurred and then stopped. Larvae that bore into the fruit leave character- istic bore holes on the exterior, which fill with frass that ex- trudes from the hole.
Biology and Life History
Codling moths overwinter as mature larvae in silken co- coons spun under loose bark, in the soil, or in debris at the base of a tree. Pupation is in the spring around the time the first blossoms show pink Adults emerge around bloom, are active only at dusk and dawn, and lay eggs on leaves and sometimes on fruit.
Larvae emerge, begin feeding on fruit, and may bore to the center of developing fruit to feed on the flesh and seeds. As larvae mature, they push frass out the entry hole. After 3 to 4 weeks, the larvae leave the fruit and seek a sheltered spot on the tree to spin cocoons.
The larvae may overwinter in the cocoon, or they may emerge in 2 to 3 weeks as a new flight of adults. These adults are active in July and August. In warm areas, there may even be a third generation. Larvae of the third genera- tion often penetrate fruit but do not complete development before harvest or winter.
Monitoring
During spring, when blossoms are present, monitor with pheromone traps for the presence of codling moth.
In July and August monitor the fruit weekly for new waves of adults. Evaluate 5% of randomly selected trees for ap- pearance of codling moth present on developing fruit. Cultural Control
Remove fallen fruit and organic debris from around the base of the tree and do not put into compost.
As a preventative measure, spray with kaolin or place kaolin -soaked socks (on smaller trees) on fruit after thinning. Install bat boxes to attract bats to prey upon codling moths. According to the PNW Handbook, mating disruption phero- mones can be used but are not effective for orchards less than 10 acres.
Management Using CYD-X
Codling moth granulosis virus CYD-X contains a naturally occurring virus that infects and kills codling moth larvae. This virus is host specific. It does not infect beneficial in- sects, fish, wildlife, livestock or humans.
Granulosis virus is a selective biological insecticide that must be ingested to be effective. Each particle containing the virus is naturally micro-encapsulated within a protein occlusion body (OB) that protects it to some degree from degradation.
Thorough coverage is important. The virus degrades when
2018 3
exposed to UV light. Frequent applications (every 7 to 10 days) are necessary if a grower relies only on granulosis virus for codling moth control especially when codling moth pres- sure is high. The virus controls larvae, but some fruit damage stings may be evident.
How CYD-X Works
The larval digestive tract of the codling moth is at a pH of 10, a high alkaline environment which dissolves the OB and re- leases the virus to penetrate the cells lining the gut. The viral DNA then “hijacks” the nucleus of the cell, directing it to rep- licate many copies of the virus, which rapidly spreads the in- fection to other organs. Within a few days the infected larva stops feeding and its melting organs fill with virus. Upon death the larva “melts,” its fragile outer skin disintegrating to release the liquefied remains of its internal organs, which con- tain billions of new virus OBs, each capable of initiating a new infection if ingested by another codling moth larva feed- ing at that site or wherever OBs have been deposited by raindrops, gravity, or by spraying CYD-X. Laboratory stud- ies have determined that a dose of 1 or 2 OBs is all that is re- quired to cause a lethal infection in half of the codling moth larvae tested. A single ounce of CYD-X biological insecti- cide contains nearly one trillion OBs. The virulent nature of CYD-X toward its host means it is effective at very low usage rates.
Resources
Pacific Northwest Insect Management Handbook, “Apple- Codling Moth.” https://pnwhandbooks.org/insect/tree-fruit/ apple/apple-codling-moth
Brunner, Jay F. “Codling Moth,” WSU Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center, Orchard Pest Management Online. http://jenny.tfree,wsu.edu/opm/displaySpecies.php?pn=5
Cyd-X Technical Memo, http://www.certisusa.com/pdf- technical/cyd-x-technical-2009.pdf
 
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I endorse the use of pheromone traps - I tried it to break the cycle of moths on my greengage tree, and this year I actually had my first small crop of greengages after waiting for about 7 years!  😁😁😁
 
John Suavecito
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The Home Orchard Society is still an online message board forum. We just don't meet, exchange scions, taste apples, teach budding and grafting, etc. The old messages are archived too.   www.homeorchardsociety.org  , then go to the upper right  and select "forums".  

I just bought some Surround product after many years of anticipating it.  It cost $56? bucks but at some places online the shipping was $30!  I am thinking of also adding and trying a larger combination of processes I've tried before: Cardboard surrounding the trunk, tanglefoot on large fake "apples" and Asian pears, fruit sox with clay on some of my best keeper apples that are prone to codling moth or apple maggot, and I'm still growing apiaceae/celery family plants with small flowers to attract tiny flying parasites on the apple maggot.

John S
PDX OR
 
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Just moved east to western MA after years in CA.  Tried the Michael Phillips spray program which uses hydrolized fish (not emulsion but unpasteurized fish), 0.5% to 1% neem oil emulsified with biodegradable dish soap, liquid kelp, and effective microbes.  4 spring sprays starting at half inch green and then every 10 days (before and after but not during bloom), then summer sprays with no fish after July (can add fermented homemade comfrey, nettle, horsetail liquid, filtered) to summer sprays.  See The Holistic Orchard book or numerous youtubes he is in.  Did not get complete control, but some.  Also keep a ramial chip (branches not big trunks or limbs) mulch under the tree, scythe or mow only as grasses prepare to blu=oom (goal is to do during spring root flush when the leaves and shoots pause in growing, maybe 10 days after petal fall), mow in fall and add compost and mulches to help down leaves after leaf fall to reduce scab next spring.  The sprays strengthen the leaves and fruit to resist pests and disease, EM's colonize leaf and bark surfaces to outcrowd disease organisms, and the neem blocks molting of insect larvae.  I can say our apples tasted the best in the neighborhood.  One no-no is close mowing all summer - it reduces the soil biology that would feed the tree.  We let it be messy (aside from keeping up with "drops", except the spring mowing and an after-leaf-fall mowing.
 
John Suavecito
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I spray compost tea in the spring to fight disease. It includes compost (of course), but also kelp, and raw fish that has been blenderized. I also use the biodynamic horsetail spray in the spring, usually.   Any of the helpful practices put together will help in these efforts.

John S
PDX OR
 
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John,

Remember that any insect pest is possibly a manifestation of issues with the trees they are "attacking".  Most of the critters are doing what they are supposed to be doing, like killing off sick, weak, or diseased trees, including apple trees.  I think it all begins in the soil, so you should have a good look at your soil to see what is going on.  If there are gaps in the soil food web, these gaps could be impacting the tree's ability to produce and the moths figure this out pretty quick.  So, do look at them as a partner in this dance and try to figure out what they are telling you.  All the fruit that falls to the ground should be gathered and given to the pigs, chooks, (I know they are not allowed,) or other animals.  Maybe figure out someone who will take the yummies from you in exchange for something you need.  Remember, the problem is the solution.
 
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I agree Marco. That's what I'm working on.
John S
PDX OR
 
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John Suavecito wrote:I have both of the above worms in my trees. Unfortunately, I can't raise chickens because they are specifically forbidden by the neighborhood agreement.  I have used zip locs and fruit sox, but I grow too many apples to do that anymore.  Any suggestions for how to take care of them in the food forest?
THanks,
John S
PDX OR




I'm in Vancouver (the Canadian one).  I find the 'sock' solution to be adequate, because if you have a problem that severe, you already have reached a point where you should either be considering whether or not a) the tree fits into the ecosystem, or b) it's got enough of an ecosystem around it to keep the codling in check.  If the tree comes down before its natural life span, it's great carving wood, whereas when it finally rots from the inside out it's not so good.  We can't have tree fetishes just because they are the biggest element.  After all, contrasting 10,000 years of burning forests sustainably vs. us not being able to face up to the fact that our apple tree doesn't fit....

The best idea is BATS.  They do eat codling moth, and bat houses are very easy to build, so it's not much of an investment if it doesn't work.

Most large apple trees (larger than, as you say, your containment methods really allow for) are large enough to support a massive ecosystem.  (If your tree is still dwarf and you don't want to continue 'socking', you may simply not be removing enough fruit.)

Not a fan of the cardboard or sticky traps, as they only slow down the problem, and that's more effectively done by picking all fallen fruit.  It's also wasteful, and causes other problems.  No real harm in trying the cardboard traps, but be careful what you're destroying is actually codling moth.

Fitting them into our native ecosystem in the PNW is tricky - first nations would pick hundreds of pacific crab apples (they are relatively sweet) for storage over winter.  European varieties just don't work quite as well, so they become high maintenance.  (I don't really find that they taste any better either.)

I'm a firm believer that if you have enough of a ground beetle and spider population, many other things will follow - there is always a part of the life-cycle where apple maggots/moths fall to earth.  Also I imagine our native red centipedes are probably some help.

Best thing though is to remember that owning an apple tree is more like owning a dog than with most plants - picking up fallen fruit and not composting it is the best way.  With many plants it isn't essential, but with apples, it's absolutely crucial.  I did manage to reduce my codling problem to acceptable levels by being religious about fallen fruit.  A good reason not to plant gooseberries and oregon grape under your apple trees....

One other thing is the possibility of just skipping a few life cycles by removing ALL the fruit for a few years, if you get desperate.

In terms of their uses, I do make apple sauce out of the useable portions.  I'm comforted by the fact that they are boiled.  The issue is remembering that if you want to compost them, you want to do something pretty odd to them - it's pretty situational - solarizing is possible, or (I think) rotting them, perhaps even baking them.  If you compost them, you're just finishing the life cycle, and if you have a problem with too many moths, that's not going to help.
 
Geoff Colpitts
Posts: 28
Location: Vancouver
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