April 1, 2012

State looks to fungicide to protect the potato crop

After last year's severe outbreak, the goal is to win a federal exemption to apply an expensive new product to seed potatoes.

By MECHELE COOPER Kennebec Journal

(Continued from page 1)

"It's the only thing we got going to protect the plants in an organic system. We don't have chemicals like the other guys," he said.

Revus contains the active ingredient mandipropamid. According to a 2008 California Department of Pesticide Regulation Public Report, mandipropamid is slightly toxic to birds and honeybees, moderately toxic to fish and some shrimp, and highly toxic to the Eastern oyster.

Denis Thoet, who grows potatoes on his small West Gardiner farm each year for his community-supported agriculture customers, said he would never pre-treat anything with chemicals.

He said the use of a fungicide such as Revus benefits only large-scale potato farms in Maine.

"It's not good for you and probably not good for the plant," Thoet said. "There's other ways to control blight. Our crop was affected in 2009. That's the first year blight was a factor in small farms; it's always a factor in large farms.

"They treat it on a large scale and have a large-scale problem with seed. They're putting (chemicals) in the ground, and the consequences are worse than they think."

Growers who sell more than $1,000 of plant products intended for human consumption and use over-the-counter pesticides must get an applicator license, which is good for three years and requires passing an exam.

Kennebec Journal Staff Writer Mechele Cooper can be contacted at 621-5663 or at:

mcooper@centralmaine.com

 

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