The long-awaited 2011 California Pesticide Use Reports were released online today and for wine grape pesticide use the data shows two steps forward, one step back. Or is that one step forward and two steps back?
Some of the most toxic substances decreased in overall use, but many bird and bee toxins increased, as did the use (and amount) of harsher herbicides in vineyards in an apparent attempt to control weeds resistant to Roundup.
Farmers used a lot more pesticides on crops in 2011 over 2010, with more than 3 million pounds used on wine grapes in 2012, up 12% over 2010. However, most of the pounds are sulfur, which constitutes about 2/3 of the pesticides used by weight on wine grapes.
Statewide for all crops, more than 191 million pounds were used.
Acres planted in wine grapes (according to PUR data) were up 8,000 acres or 1 percent.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE REPORT'S FINDINGS
All boldings and [comments] are mine.
1. THE GOOD NEWS
• Buprofezin and Neurotoxin Chloropyrifos Use Down 63 Percent
"The area treated with buprofezin [possible carcinogen] and chlorpyrifos [neurotoxin listed on Bad Actor list] decreased substantially in 2011 (81 and 63 percent, respectively)."
THE BAD NEWS
• Soil Fumigant 1,3 D Use Up 67 Percent
• Acres Treated with Bee and Bird Toxins Increase 87 Percent
• Herbicide Acres Treated Up 17 Percent
1,3 D is a very toxic fumigant used to kill all the life in a vineyard before the ground is planted or replanted in vines. It's classified as by Pesticide Action Network as a Bad Actor on two counts - as a carcinogen and as a ground water contaminant.
"Though the area treated was small, reﬂecting the relatively small number of new vineyard
plantings, in terms of amount applied, use of the fumigant 1,3-D increased 67 percent (446,349
pounds). This was the fourth largest amount of active ingredient applied, across all types, after
sulfur, oils, and glyphosate. The area treated increased 78 percent."
Bee and Bird Toxins:
"The insecticides applied to the greatest acreage in 2011 were oils, imidacloprid [bee and bird toxin] methoxyfenozide [bird and bee toxin], abamectin, spirotetramat, Bacillus thuringiensis [organic], and chlorantraniliprole [bee toxin]."
"The area treated with herbicides increased 17 percent from 2010 to 2011, and the herbicides used
most were glyphosate, glufosinate-ammonium, oxyﬂuorfen [possible carcinogen], ﬂumioxazin, pendimethalin [possible carcinogen], and simazine. Use of each of these herbicides increased in 2011, the increases ranging from 13 percent (glyphosate) to 56 percent (simazine). The area treated with paraquat [super deadly] decreased (27 percent) for the second consecutive year, but that treated with glufosinate-ammonium increased (18 percent).
This may be due to the continued prevalence of glyphosate-resistant weeds..."
Normally the pesticide data is released more frequently than 17 months after the end of the year in which the reports end, but the state switched over from an older computer system to a new one.
2012 data is expected to be out later this year.
The full 2011 report can be read online here.
Of course, organic wine grape growers do not use any of the substances highlighted here (except Bt which is organic).