Pesticide usage report: Top fruit crops 2008

Date published: 20 November 2009

Pesticide usage report: Top fruit crops 2008



This report presents information from a survey of the pesticide usage practices of top fruit growers in Northern Ireland in 2008. It is the fifth pesticide survey to be conducted on top fruit crops in the region since 1992.

An estimated 250 top fruit orchards were surveyed in Northern Ireland in 2008 with information on crop applications, storage treatments and orchard floor treatments being recorded. The total area of top fruit crops grown in 2008 increased by 2% to 1,482 hectares when compared with the previous survey in 2006. Approximately 95% of all top fruit crops were grown in County Armagh, with Bramley apple orchards accounting for 99% of the total top fruit grown in Northern Ireland.

Overall, an estimated 26 tonnes of pesticide active ingredients were applied to 32,831 spray hectares. The pesticide-treated area increased by 14% compared with 2006, and the weight of active ingredients applied increased by 19%.

In common with previous years, fungicides were the most frequently applied pesticide. When compared to 2006, fungicide application in area treated and weight applied increased by 10% and 17%, respectively. During 2008, fungicides were applied to 83% of the pesticide-treated area and accounted for 90% of the weight of pesticides used. The fungicides dithianon and mancozeb were the active ingredients most commonly used on top fruit crops. An estimated 73% of all fungicide applications were applied to control apple scab (Venturia inaequalis).

The area treated with insecticides and acaricides increased by 19% when compared with 2006. Insecticides and acaricides were applied to 8% of the entire pesticide-treated area, accounting for 4% of the total weight of pesticides used. The organophosphate insecticide chlorpyrifos was the most frequently applied insecticide/acaricide. An estimated 21% of insecticide/acaricide applications were to control aphids.

Overall, the area treated and weight of herbicides applied increased by 7% and 38%, respectively, when compared with 2006. Glyphosate was the herbicide active ingredient most frequently used with ‘general weed control’ under the tree canopy the reason for use.

Growth regulators accounted for 6% of the pesticide-treated area but less than 1% of the total weight of pesticide applied. Prohexadione-calcium was the growth regulator active ingredient most frequently used with applications increasing four fold.

An estimated 24 tonnes of ‘other products’, including foliar feeds, trace elements and calcium-based products, were also applied to the crops during this survey period. This represented a 63% increase when compared to 2006. 
This large increase was due to the method reported in this survey. The majority of applications were to treat potential nutritional disorders.

Herbicides applied in ‘strips’ under the tree canopy with inter-row grass being mowed was, as in previous years, the most common weed management practice (used in 68% of orchards). The inter-row areas of all orchards surveyed were mown for grass and weed control. An estimated 31% of orchards did not apply herbicides for grass and weed control.

Data was also collected on post-harvest storage treatments applied to top fruit crops. An estimated 17,318 tonnes of top fruit crops were stored, 16,330 tonnes of which were treated. The antioxidant fungicide diphenylamine was the most commonly used pesticide active ingredient applied to stored fruit. A total of three products (three pesticide active ingredients and one trace element) were recorded in use on stored top fruit crops.

In contrast with previous reports, new orchard plantations (“non-fruiting”) were not included in this report.  

For further information on this work please contact: Pesticide Usage Survey Group