Growers face many challenges in running a vegetable operation, from managing labor to dealing with changing weather conditions.

They also must consistently produce high-yielding crops that meet buyers’ strict conditions and quality standards. The presence of insects, as well as damage caused by these pests, can render a crop unmarketable. Lettuce, for example, may not be harvested if aphids are inside the heads at maturity. You can sell a celery crop if leaf miners bore tunnels in the petioles.

Customers have a low threshold for insect damage. So most growers rely on pesticides to bring crops up to market standards. Considering the critical role that pesticides play in growing vegetables, it is vital that they remain available to farmers.

However, environmental concerns threaten the future availability of some insecticides. Several classes of pesticides, including organophosphates, pyrethroids, and neonicotinoids, are toxic to some important aquatic invertebrate species, which threatens the ecological health of creeks, estuaries, lakes, and rivers. As a result, some states like California passed strict water regulations.

What can growers do to protect both their crop and their local ecosystem?

Fewer Pesticides Will Be Available

Regulatory agencies are increasing pressure on growers to demonstrate that their use of pesticides is not degrading water quality in nearby water bodies.

Growers who apply organophosphate pesticides in California’s coastal valleys can face more regulatory oversight with burdensome monitoring and reporting requirements that add significantly to production costs. There are also concerns in the agricultural community that neonicotinoid pesticides will soon come under stricter regulation in California.

Read more at Growing Produce