Agchems have changed over time – haven’t they?

Posted By HBFA | November 18, 2022

I had a visit from Gaz Ingram the other day with a bit of memorabilia, some old spray programmes, that should be preserved in some way as they do help document changes in part of our industry.

The oldest is a compatibility chart put together for the 1966-67 season by The New Zealand Fruitgrowers Federation Ltd. The next oldest are spray plans from the seventies by Skelton Ivory (and Trevor Ivory). I assume they were from the seventies as they have imperial measurements and we didn’t change to metric until 14 Dec 1976. The third is a Wrightson Horticulture spray plan from the eighties, dated again by assumption and familiarity. This has the pesticides down the side and pictures of growth stages across the top – very similar to a contemporary version.

I also have a 2018/2019 Pest & Disease wall chart from Horticentre Group, a Farmlands chart from the same year and then a current Summerfruit NZ MRL wall chart.

On the 1966-67 chart there are 41 products mentioned and on the Summerfruit NZ 2022-23 MRL chart there are 32 products, neither including herbicides or foliar fertilizers. The quantum is similar but the nature of the present offering is very different. In between times there has been a significant drop off in offered products, only 9 on the 1970’s Skelton chart and 22 on the 1980’s version. Some of this might be due to the offering being limited to individual company agreements.

The products that still remain today that are on the 1960’s chart include copper in its various forms, sulphur, streptomycin, mineral oil, sulphur and carbaryl. All the rest have gone and been replaced by soft, targeted products in the main. Other trends that are easily noted are monitoring before application and the use of on-orchard traps. I guess that if this comparison were to be made in a few years’ time then carbaryl will be gone as well.

What we have been advised is that there will be fewer new chemicals registered for stonefruit use in the future, i.e. the total number will go down as older chemistry is removed but not necessarily replaced. That behoves us to look after what we have got, to heed the recommendations about mixing key fungicides with protectant fungicides and to alternate product groups throughout the season.

We should be happy with the soft and targeted chemistry that we now have for insect control, with an eye to the future where other targeted products and alternative systems will be in place.
Now to find a way to preserve the old charts, and keep an eye on new developments.

The 2022 harvest season is underway with early nectarines, and cherries just around the corner. Let’s hope that the chemistry has done what we need it to through this period of wet weather – there will be a good market for fresh disease free stonefruit. The thinking is that consumers are a bit over apples, bananas and citrus. Its time for a taste of summer.

Richard Mills
Summerfruit Technical Advisor
021 632559


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