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Monday, August 2, 2010

The future of endosulfan in small fruits and tobacco

In June, the EPA moved to terminate the use of endosulfan (an organochlorine insecticide). Among the crops I work on strawberries, blueberries, and tobacco will be potentially impacted by this termination. Endosulfan (trade names include Thiodan, Thionex, and many others) is registered for use against cyclamen mites, aphids, lygus bugs (strawberries); blueberry bud mites (blueberry); aphids, green June bugs, and stink bugs (tobacco).

This termination will mean different things for these different crops.

For tobacco, little will change. We have not recommended the use of endosulfan in tobacco for the last 4 years, because of pesticide residue concerns among buyers and because good, effective alternatives exist for the target pests. If the current agreement holds, no endosulfan can be used on tobacco after July 31, 2012, with sales restrictions taking effect sooner.

In strawberry, the same timeline also applies. No endosulfan can be used after July 31, 2012. We have removed endosulfan from the 2011 Southern Region Small Fruit Consortium Strawberry IPM Guide (update to be published this winter). Endosulfan is registered for cyclamen mites, aphids, and lygus bugs in strawberry. The UC IPM guide for strawberries recommends Kanemite and Agri-mek for cyclamen mites, both of which are also registered in NC strawberries (a note about pesticide use), and we have several tools for use against aphids. Lygus bugs are a trickier proposition. Pyrethriods are effective, but may have undesirable non target effects on mites (they may flare them). However, our spring strawberry season is typically complete before large lygus populations appear. Lygus, or tarnished plant bugs, have greater pest potential in day neutral, ever bearing, or perennial strawberry production.

Finally, of the crops I work on blueberries face the greatest challenge with the removal of endosulfan. Blueberry bud mite, BBM, (Acalitus vaccinii) is difficult to control in some varieties, and endosulfan is the only conventional material available. The pest severity of BBM varies by variety, and can be mitigated in the southeast with post harvest pruning. This is not an option in areas with shorter growing seasons. In recognition of the greater difficulty imposed by the loss of endosulfan on blueberries, there will be a longer phase out. Again assuming the current agreement holds, blueberry growers will be able use endosulfan until July 2015. This will give researchers and regulators time to develop and/or register alternatives to endosulfan for blueberry bud mite.

More information
EPA action to terminate endosulfan

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