California Cotton: Growers Left Defenseless in War on Bugs – Commentary

    Brown stink bug. Photo: K. Kamminga, University of Massachusetts

    If you grow cotton Arkansas, Georgia, Texas or any other cotton growing state in the U.S., you now have at least five (5) critical crop protection tools that a cotton grower in California does not.  This is a result of recent actions by the state of California to ban Lorsban (chlorpyrifos) and slow down the registration process for Transform (sulfoxaflor).

    These two pesticides join Bidrin (dicrotophos), AgLogic (aldicarb), and Belay (clothianidin) as pest control products used in other US cotton growing states but prohibited in California.  When fighting brown stink bugs (Bidrin), aphids (Belay, Lorsban), lygus (Transform) or aphids, thrips and mites (AgLogic), growers in other cotton growing states clearly have a distinct advantage over California.

    Lorsban was banned by California, and AgLogic is held up in registration review at the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR).

    Bidrin failed registration because it did not have a California specific soil deposition study (it did have 2 other states data but CDPR only accepts data from California).

    Belay can’t be used, because of bee restrictions, even though cotton does not use bees.  And it is used by other states on cotton.

    And finally, in a meeting last week with CDPR registration branch officials, the Association was informed that its 24c application for Transform would not be granted this year, because more than 4400 comments have been submitted opposing the use of Transform and the agency has been threatened to be sued by Earthjustice.

    Clearly, there is a lack of recognition that growers truly wish they didn’t have to spray an ounce of pesticide.  Nothing demonstrates this more than the California cotton grower led effort to combat the pink bollworm through an areawide program which included a multi-million dollar sterile release facility paid for by California cotton growers, and an enforcement driven mandatory plowdown restriction on growers, also completely paid for by California cotton growers.

    Finally, limiting the types of pesticides works against the basic tenants of Integrated Pest Management (IPM).  University of California IPM guidance clearly speaks to the need for resistance management and in some cases recommends changing classes of pesticides with every application, clearly something that California is getting away from.

    Leaving cotton growers in California defenseless against these devastating pests while the 16 other cotton growing states have the tools, is…well…defenseless.

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