Pesticide usage report: Top fruit crops 2010

Date published: 01 November 2011

Pesticide usage report: Top fruit crops 2010



This report presents information from a survey of the pesticide usage practices of top fruit growers in Northern Ireland in 2010.  It is the sixth pesticide survey to be conducted on top fruit crops in the region since 1992.  An estimated 217 top fruit orchards were surveyed in Northern Ireland in 2010 with information on crop applications, storage treatments and orchard floor treatments being recorded.  The total area of top fruit crops grown in 2010 increased by 2% to 1,516 hectares when compared with the previous survey in 2008.  Approximately 93% 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 30 tonnes of pesticide active ingredients were applied to 34,763 spray hectares.  The pesticide-treated area increased by 6% compared with 2008, and the weight of active ingredients applied increased by 14%.

In common with previous years, fungicides were the most frequently applied pesticide.  When compared to 2008, fungicide application in area treated and weight applied increased by 5% and 14%, respectively.  During 2010, fungicides were applied to 82% 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 86% of all fungicide applications were applied to control apple scab (Venturia inaequalis).

The area treated with insecticides and acaricides decreased by 2% when compared with 2008.  Insecticides and acaricides were applied to 7% of the entire pesticide-treated area, accounting for 3% of the total weight of pesticides used.  The organophosphate insecticide chlorpyrifos was the most frequently applied insecticide/acaricide.  An estimated 46% of insecticide/acaricide applications were for ‘insect control’, with a further 38% to control aphids.

Overall, the area treated and weight of herbicides applied increased by 36% and 50%, respectively, when compared with 2008.  This can mainly be attributed to the increase in glyphosate usage and area treated with this product.  Glyphosate was also the herbicide active ingredient most frequently used, applied to the ground beneath the tree canopy with ‘general weed control’ given as the reason for use.

Growth regulators accounted for 7% of the pesticide-treated area and 1% of the total weight of pesticide applied.  Prohexadione-calcium and paclobutrazol were the growth regulator active ingredients most frequently used.

An estimated 16 tonnes of ‘other products’, which included foliar feeds, trace elements and calcium-based products, were applied to the crops during this survey period, representing a 33% decrease when compared to 2008.  The majority of applications were to treat potential nutritional disorders.

The most common weed management practice was to apply herbicides in strips under the tree canopy and mow the inter-row grass area between the rows of trees (used in 69% of orchards).  The remaining 31% of orchards surveyed did not apply herbicides for grass or weed control.

Data were also collected on post-harvest storage treatments applied to top fruit crops (only Bramley fruiting apples were stored in Northern Ireland in 2010).  An estimated 17,237 tonnes of top fruit crops were stored, 16,567 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 pesticide active ingredients were recorded in use on stored top fruit crops in 2010, with 1-Methylcyclopropene being encountered for the first time for treatment of stored apples.

Results for new orchard plantations (“non-fruiting crops”) have been combined with results for established orchard plantations (“fruiting crops”) due to their relatively small number.  This method was also used in the 2008 report.

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