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Apple Growers Call for Use of Pesticides to Fight Beetle Infestation

In the Netherlands, a growing number of apple growers are suffering from crop failures because of the apple weevil, a small beetle about six millimeters long. NOS reported on monday. Some growers advocate the use of pesticides to control infestations.

In spring, these beetles infest apple trees. The beetle’s reproductive process involves stinging flowers and laying eggs on some flowers. Larvae emerge from these eggs and prevent the flowers from developing into apples.

Initially, this beetle was active only in the southern part of the country, but it is now frequently tracked elsewhere. Frans Reich, an apple grower in Dronten, canton Flevoland, is now feeling the effects. “Some of the trees are completely empty, and the things hanging there are out of shape. We could be canceling half of the harvest,” he told the NOS.

Although beeticides such as Exirel and Raptol can be ordered online, fruit growers are not permitted to use these insecticides. Regulatory authorities such as the Dutch Food and Consumer Products Safety Authority (NVWA) and the Dutch Commission for the Authorization of Plant Protection Products and Biocides (Ctgb) determine the legal use of pesticides. Currently, Dutch fruit growers are not allowed to use Raptor and Exirel.

“It may be available, but we operate according to the law. Other countries allow the use of this pesticide,” said Scheep Koening, director of the Dutch Fruit Growers’ Organization. As an industry, we want a level playing field. A provision exists that allows growers to apply for emergency approval for pesticides, and Corning said it plans to seek such approval for these agents next year.

Hermann Hersen, a pest control researcher at the University of Wageningen, said the university has been working for several years to identify alternative ways to protect crops from beetles. Although he has found ways to better control insect populations, he concedes that no effective strategy has yet been found to completely eliminate the need for chemical control. He stressed that there are now methods available that do not involve the use of pesticides. For example, decoy tubes can be used to remove beetles from an orchard.

According to Frans Rijk, existing alternatives do not currently provide a good solution. He stressed dependence on pesticides. “We think of it as a form of paracetamol. It’s not something you take just because you can drink it. You should only take it if you need to.”

Koning of the Dutch Orchard Growers’ Organization echoed the sentiment, emphasizing the importance of protective measures to prevent further infestation. “If we can’t control it, the epidemic will get bigger every year,” he said.

Regarding the potential impact on consumer prices, Corning said most of the 200 million pounds of apples harvested in the Netherlands are destined for the domestic market. Whether this will lead to higher prices for apples in supermarkets remains uncertain, as it will depend on overall growing conditions across Europe.

https://nltimes.nl/2023/07/24/apple-growers-demand-use-pesticides-combat-beetle-infestations Apple Growers Call for Use of Pesticides to Fight Beetle Infestation

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