Pesticide usage report: Top fruit crops 2012

Date published: 20 November 2013

Pesticide usage report: Top fruit crops 2012



This report presents information from a survey of the pesticide usage practices of top fruit growers in Northern Ireland in 2012. It is the seventh pesticide survey to be conducted on top fruit crops in the region since 1992. There were an estimated 223 top fruit growers in Northern Ireland in 2012, of which 100 were selected to be surveyed regarding information on crop applications, storage treatments and orchard floor treatments. The total area of top fruit crops grown decreased by less than 1% to 1,506 hectares when compared with the previous survey in 2010. An estimated 96% 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. There were an estimated 23,789 tonnes of Bramley apples harvested in 2012, a 52% decrease since 2010.

Overall, an estimated 35 tonnes of pesticide active ingredients were applied to 37,832 spray hectares. The pesticide-treated area increased by 9% compared with 2010, and the weight of active ingredients applied increased by 17%.

In common with previous years, fungicides were the most frequently applied pesticide. When compared with 2010, the area treated with fungicides and the weight applied increased by 14% and 22%, respectively. This may have been as a consequence of the particularly wet summer in 2012 and also the withdrawal from use of the storage treatment diphenylamine. In 2012, fungicides were applied to 86% of the pesticide-treated area and accounted for 94% of the weight of pesticides used. Mancozeb, dithianon, captan and pyrimethanil were the fungicide active ingredients most commonly used on top fruit crops. An estimated 91% of all fungicide applications were applied to control apple scab (Venturia inaequalis).

The area treated with insecticides and acaricides decreased by 14% when compared with 2010. Insecticides and acaricides were applied to 6% of the entire pesticide-treated area, accounting for 2% of the total weight of pesticides used. The pyrethroid insecticide cypermethrin and the organophosphate insecticide chlorpyrifos were the two most frequently applied insecticides, collectively accounting for 80% of the area treated with insecticide/acaricides. An estimated 46% of insecticide/acaricides were applied to control aphids, with a further 33% applied for ‘insect control’.

Overall, the area treated and weight of herbicides applied decreased by 22% and 36%, respectively, when compared with 2010. Glyphosate and dicamba/MCPA/mecoprop-P were the herbicides most frequently used. 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, with 96% of growers using this method. The remaining 4% of growers either mowed or grazed the strips under the tree canopy as well as the inter-row area.

Growth regulators accounted for 5% of the pesticide-treated area and 1% of the total weight of pesticide applied. Prohexadione-calcium, paclobutrazol and gibberellins were the only growth regulator active ingredients applied. Gibberellins accounted for 16% of the area treated with a growth regulator but only 1% of the total weight applied.

An estimated 14 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 13% decrease when compared to 2010. The majority of applications were to treat potential nutritional disorders.

Data were also collected on post-harvest storage treatments applied to top fruit crops (only Bramley fruiting apples were stored in Northern Ireland in 2012). An estimated 10,159 tonnes of Bramley apples were stored, of which 8,992 tonnes were treated. The most commonly used active ingredient on stored Bramley apples was 1-methylcyclopropene which was applied to 89% of stored fruit, in contrast to all previous surveys when diphenylamine was the most commonly applied storage treatment. This was the first year since surveys began that diphenylamine was not available to growers as a storage treatment in Northern Ireland.

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