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Spray Hormone Herbicides Before Spring

Hawke's Bay Regional Council Media Release

12 August 2011

Spray Hormone Herbicides Before Spring

Hawke's Bay Regional Council and Hawke's Bay Winegrowers are urging anyone who needs to use hormone herbicides to spray now during winter before bud burst in vineyards and orchards.

"We had a serious spray incident involving hormone spray reported to us last year and we want people to use these sprays before the end of winter, just ahead of bud burst," said Phil Hall, Environmental Officer with Hawke's Bay Regional Council.

Hormone sprays such as MCPA and 2,4-D are readily available and are used for thistle and other broadleaf weed control plus a multitude of agriculture and non-agriculture use. They are used by farmers, lifestyle block owners and councils as well as home gardeners.

The risk to Hawke's Bay comes from some crops such as grapes, tomatoes and kiwifruit being particularly sensitive to these sprays. Also in some conditions hormone sprays can vaporise and be carried by the wind, even several days after spray applications. Drifting sprays have caused damage to vines and orchard trees some distance away from where they were used.

"Hormone sprays are particularly devastating to grapes, often leading to complete loss of crop and in more serious cases the vines can be completely killed. Before the Resource Management Act 1991, there used to be an un-enforced regulation stating not to use these sprays within 8km of a vineyard outside of winter. With the number of vineyards in Hawke's Bay, this approach is still sensible and users of hormone sprays should ensure that they complete spraying by 1 September," said Xan Harding, Vice-Chairman of Hawke's Bay Winegrowers.

Hawke's Bay Regional Council agrees that a precautionary approach is particularly important for users of hormone sprays.

"People need to use these sprays much more carefully around their properties and homes, taking note of wind and climate conditions, and neighbouring properties."

Spraying should not be done on cold, still days either when an inversion layer is in place. An inversion layer makes it easy for spray drops to remain suspended in the extremely calm air and then to move slowly downwind, posing a serious risk of spray drift.

People should follow label directions carefully and check that spray equipment is well maintained, getting the spray on the target weed plants and not releasing it further into the air.

The Regional Council urges everyone using sprays to do so in accordance with label directions. Growers and other 'non-domestic' sprayers need to be aware that Regional plan rules apply to their spraying activities, and refer to sections 2, 5 and 6 of the NZ Standard for the Management of Agrichemicals (NZS 8409:2004).


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