Grape Growers Say Herbicides From Neighboring Cotton Fields Damage Their Vines

The use of phenoxy herbicides, combined with bug-resistant GMO cotton, creates conflicts among High Plains farmers.

By Jill AmentAugust 22, 2017 1:04 pm| , ,

Grape-growing experts say Texas vineyards could see another banner year this season. But vineyard owners in the High Plains, where more than 80 percent of the state’s wine grapes are produced, are concerned about damage to their crops from herbicides used on nearby cotton fields. They say the chemicals are drifting into their vineyards, and that’s causing some tension among neighboring farmers.

Jim Kamas, a viticulture expert with Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service, says grapevines are highly susceptible to the phenoxy herbicides that cotton farmers use on their crops. Symptoms include deformed and twisted foliage. The damage, Kamas says, is distinctive.

Kamas says that the herbicides have been used on cotton since the 1940s, but that in combination with herbicide-resistant GMO cotton, their effect on grapevines is more pronounced.

Written by Shelly Brisbin.