Alfalfa, almond, citrus and cotton account for over 2.5 million acres of agricultural production in California valued at over $10 billion. Alfalfa, the single largest-acreage field crop grown throughout the state, is valued at $1.25 billion and provides feed for dairies, a key industry in our state. California produces almost 90% of the world almond supply, valued at over $6 billion with export to over 90 countries. California citrus is an extremely valuable commodity currently threatened by an insect-vectored bacterial disease; oranges, lemons, and tangerines are currently valued at $2 billion and this market is expected to expand. California cotton, highly regarded as the standard for premium fiber, is valued at $753 million and is one of the top ten exported commodities in the state.
Chlorpyrifos is an important insecticide in IPM programs for each of these crops due to its efficacy, value as a resistance management tool, established international registration status (MRLs, maximum residue levels), and as a tool against invasive pests and endemic pest outbreaks.
Currently there are ongoing efforts at federal and state regulatory agencies to implement measures that change the use of chlorpyrifos. These entities are further evaluating public health and environmental concerns that could result in increased use restrictions.
Last year, Area IPM Advisor Pete Goodell and Project Coordinator Lori Berger convened industry leaders to work together to create commodity-specific guidelines regarding chlorpyrifos use in their cropping systems. The project organized four crop teams (alfalfa, almond, citrus, and cotton) to gather data and input on the technical and practical need for chlorpyrifos in their unique commodities, and to identify critical uses for this product. The makeup of the teams included industry representatives, UC Cooperative Extension specialists, pest control advisers, growers, and project staff from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) and UC IPM.
This year, Goodell and Berger concentrated on the development of extension tools and training. Seven trainings were completed in 2015, covering all four crops. Trainings were held throughout the state from Escondido to Yreka. Sessions led by local farm advisors—and including UC IPM staff and representatives from DPR, Natural Resources Conservation Services, and county agricultural commissioner offices—presented relevant IPM information and regulatory updates. Continuing education hours were provided.
"We're very proud with how the trainings equip the user community with up-to-date information in light of current regulatory changes at local, state, and national levels."
— Lori Berger
The trainings featured revised UC Pest Management Guidelines. For the key pests determined from the crop team discussions, the pesticides were updated to reflect new insecticides and information gleaned from the crop team discussions.
“We’re very proud with how the trainings equip the user community with up-to-date information in light of current regulatory changes at local, state, and national levels,” says Berger.
A new web-based decision-support tool was also featured. The decision-support tool uses existing information from the Pest Management Guidelines and presents it in such a way as to document the decision-making process a pest control adviser or grower might go through when deciding what management practices to use to control a pest.
Six more trainings are planned for 2016 covering alfalfa, almond and citrus.
Last year’s crop-team discussions focused on a better understanding of the critical needs of chlorpyrifos use by growers and pest control advisors in four major California commodities. It is anticipated that this increased understanding will inform regulators, who can then make decisions based on good knowledge of the critical situations where chlorpyrifos is used.
Increased understanding by Cooperative Extension advisors of these grower and pest control adviser situations formulated better IPM trainings for this important clientele. Trainings increase the awareness of growers and pest control advisers to alternative practices and the importance of using chlorpyrifos only when necessary.