Changes Ahead for Southeast Fruit and Vegetable Growers

Producers surveyed say they are exploring new crop protection strategies to meet consumer demand.

SAVANNAH, Ga., Feb. 18, 2014 – Consumer demand for high-quality produce has fruit and vegetable growers in the southeast exploring new crop protection strategies this year. According to a survey of 2014 Southeast Fruit and Vegetable Conference attendees, more than half said they plan to change their crop production programs this year, citing disease and pest pressure as their biggest challenges to producing the abundant, uniform and blemish-free crops the fresh market demands.

The survey, sponsored by DuPont Crop Protection, collected information from growers attending the recent conference in Savannah, Ga. Crop specialty groups represented at the conference included peppers, tomatoes, cucurbits, melons, tree fruits, strawberries and blueberries.

Consumer Demand Influences Program Decisions

More than half (53 percent) of the Southeast fruit and vegetable growers surveyed said consumer perception and demand for visually appealing crops influence their crop protection programs. Nearly the same number (51 percent) said they plan to make program changes in 2014 to continue to produce the aesthetically pleasing crops their domestic and export customers expect.

“The high-value, fresh produce market has very little tolerance for pest damage,” said James Hay, business director, North America, DuPont Crop Protection. “In addition, regulatory agencies and food companies are setting tighter standards for maximum residue limits (MRLs). Growers are tasked with protecting valuable crops with programs and products that support marketing and export requirements.”

Disease and Pest Pressures: Top Concern

The survey found the number one challenge to growers in 2013 was disease and pest pressure, followed by labor availability and changing food safety regulations. More than half (54 percent) of respondents said that pest pressure affects their ability to maintain high yields and market their crops.

To manage these challenges, growers are exploring a variety of methods to enhance their crop production programs. Among those surveyed, 19 percent said they are looking to invest in new crop protection technologies and 17 percent said they will consider alternate and increased applications in their crop protection application programs this year. Other tactics being considered include growing new varieties, incorporating crop nutrition programs and planting cover crops.

Hay said the quest to stay ahead of insect, weed and disease damage is not new, but is made more challenging by pest resistance to previously effective crop protection strategies.

“The industry must work together to implement sound resistance management strategies,” he urged. “Introducing new modes of action for crop protection is one important way to manage pest resistance and preserve the efficacy of crop protection technologies already in place.

“The survey findings underscore the value of discovering and developing effective new crop protection strategies for the specialties market,” added Hay. “We will continue collaborating with growers and consultants to help them produce high-yielding, high-quality crops.”

Hay pointed to DuPont Verimark and Exirel insect control as the latest examples of how DuPont innovation is offering new solutions to prevent insect damage and other production problems that affect crop marketability. Both are powered by Cyazypyr, a single active ingredient that provides a new mode of action for cross-spectrum control of sucking and chewing pests, including thrips, whiteflies and psyllids.

DuPont received the 2013 Agrow Award for Best Crop Protection R&D Pipeline. New insect control products including Verimark and Exirel, fungicides and herbicides are helping to sustain food production and farmer prosperity around the world.

State registrations for DuPont™ Verimark™ and Exirel™ insect control are pending. See your local DuPont sales representative or retail for details on availability. The information provided on this website is for reference only. Always refer to the product labels for complete details and directions for use.