Wine growers urge safe use of herbicides
Environment 2, 4-D often inadvertently damages grape vines; Oregon Winegrowers Association looking to educate involved parties
The issue of pesticides and herbicides has always been prevalent, but a strain of growth-regulating herbicides has been damaging grape vines, prompting the Oregon Winegrowers Association to seek solutions to the problem.
Wine grapes are sensitive to certain types of herbicides. They can either drift over into vineyards if being sprayed on an adjacent property or some of the herbicide, its called volatilization, can be picked up by the weather and can be dropped even a couple of miles away, said Jana McKamey, OWA government affairs manager. Its used commonly for broadleaf control and can have negative impacts on growth. Damage on the vines can range anywhere from having a lower yield to really having long-term damage for the grape vine.
The specific herbicide they are raising awareness about is 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, commonly known as 2,4-D.
Weve been trying to educate our industry and other stakeholder groups about the damage these herbicides can cause, McKamey said.
So far this has involved selling signs warning of the potential risks and meeting with a task force organized by the Oregon Department of Agriculture.
Our goal is to really prevent damage to vineyards and a big part of that is raising awareness about the impact and reminding everyone to please apply these herbicides carefully because there are risks out there, she said.
Doug Tunnell owns Brick House Wines in Newberg and has been an active proponent of the OWAs efforts, especially after suffering herbicide damage on his vineyard years ago.
I know personally of a number of wineries who have been hit really seriously this year, in fact its an ongoing issue and its something we really need to raise awareness of because it keeps happening, Tunnell said. Weve talked and talked about it, but were just not getting through to the severity of the problem. When the drift occurs it is often lethal for the vineyard in question for the crop that year.
He said theres often evidence of long-term residual damage as well.
They dont bounce back as they should, Tunnell said. Although he cant be sure what the cause was, he had to replant some of his vineyard this year, the same section that was hit with herbicide years ago.
They never reproduced as they should have and their lifespan wasnt what it should be, he said. Healthy vines can live 100 years, mine were only 20 (years old).
Although McKamey said the end goal isnt an outright ban on 2, 4-D, Oregon Vineyard Supply recently announced it will no longer carry the herbicide.
We certainly appreciate that step taken by OVS because theyre supplying to growers beyond wine grape growers, but its not something weve asked of them or other suppliers, she said.
Tunnell agreed that the step is appreciated, but what he and OWA want is education and safe use of the herbicide.