14 February 1997

Retailer purge could put paid to nematicides

NEMATICIDES could be severely restricted or even banned under new supermarket plans to tighten potato specifications – growers must plan PCN management to help offset that threat.

"Nematicides are potentially dangerous products. Growers are well and truly under the microscope," Simon Bowen, technical director at Anglian Produce, told a conference organised by Rhone-Poulenc in Newmarket.

Supermarket scrutiny may vary from a simple request on chemical use, to a more prescriptive produce specification. That could dictate sampling procedure, nematicide levels, product type and rotation intervals, he said.

"All this will be formally audited. If this sounds like a nightmare scenario, it is unfortunately one which is already embodied in a draft product specification by a leading supermarket. I believe that is a glimpse of things to come."

Growers must react positively, he advised. The temptation to use nematicides to shorten rotations must be avoided. "That will heighten concern and accelerate the withdrawal of nematicides."

Instead, inputs must be justified and if possible, cut, said Dr Bowen. Growers must understand the pest, and develop a management plan to control it. "Failure may leave you sidelined, unable to sell into certain markets or unable to grow potatoes at all."

Potato growers must justify use of nematicides, warns Simon Bowen.


NEMATICIDE NEMESIS?


&#8226 Supermarket pressure.

&#8226 Formal audits.

&#8226 Avoid short rotation.

&#8226 Plan nematicide policy.

&#8226 Mapping may help.