Texas Wineries Worry New Herbicide Will Destroy Their Grape Crop

The chemical could drift from row crop fields to grapevines nearby.

By Alexandra HartJanuary 3, 2017 10:30 am, ,

In the coming months, the Environmental Protection Agency will decide whether or not to allow the use of 2,4-D on row crops. The herbicide is used to kill weeds other than grasses and is frequently used in pastures and cereal crops.

The chemical is already used on some crops in 15 states. But the EPA could approve its use in Texas. The impending decision has some of the state’s winegrowers fearful that the herbicide could wither their grapevines.

The weed-killing chemical has been in use for more than 60 years, but a new technology has engineered cotton, corn and soybean crops that are resistant to the chemical.

Justin Scheiner works with the grape and wine industry in Texas. He says the new seeds would allow a farmer to apply the chemical over the top of their field. Some grape farmers worry the chemical will drift onto their fields close by to other farming operations using the chemical.

“Grapes are particularly sensitive to 2,4-D,” Scheiner says. “They could be damaged at 100th of what may be a labeled rate of application of 2,4-D might be.”

Grape production is widespread across Texas, with a concentration in the high plains areas near Lubbock.

The approval of the use of the chemicals could prove troublesome for grapevines, Scheiner says.

“It could be very bad, depending on the level of misuse of these products or potential misuse,” he says.

Post by Beth Cortez-Neavel.