Wines & Vines Home
Welcome Guest

Vineyard Retailer Halts Herbicide Sales

Drift concerns prompt Oregon Vineyard Supply to remove products

by Peter Mitham
Injury to grapevines hit by 2,4-D drift is evident in this photo taken by Michael White of the Iowa State University Extension. Oregon Vineyard Supply announced its plan to stop selling 2,4-D and similar products due to concerns about drift.
McMinnville, Ore.—A halt on the sale of popular herbicides prone to drift and damage in Oregon vineyards is the latest move in an ongoing saga regarding the state’s wine industry.

Oregon Vineyard Supply (OVS) announced this week that it will no longer sell so-called growth regulator herbicides, which mimic the action of natural plant hormones known as auxins. The hormones regulate growth, but when delivered in sufficient concentrations they disrupt biochemical pathways and cause a plant’s death by disrupting apical bud growth and other plant functions.

Among the oldest synthetic herbicides, ester-based formulations have a tendency to volatize and drift into non-target species including grapevines. They’re concerning enough that Washington state has banned the use of high-volatile ester and dust formulations of phenoxy-type herbicides.

Those are among the type OVS has announced that it will stop selling—including 2,4-D, perhaps the best-known phenoxy in the class (it was an ingredient in Agent Orange)—as well as herbicides with benzoic and pyradine compounds as their active ingredients. These include dicamba and the branded herbicides Crossbow and Garlon 4 Ultra.

Amine salt-based formulations of these herbicides tend not to volatize and remain available, though they are often more expensive.

“It’s clear to us through repeated damage year to year that Oregon agriculture is making little progress in addressing this issue,” Matt Novak, president and CEO of OVS, told Wines & Vines. “Rather than waiting for the Oregon Department of Agriculture to impose some restrictions on products, we thought it was appropriate to be more proactive and voluntarily cease selling these products that are the most notorious offenders.”

Spreading the word
Spraying in the forest sector, which is the largest single user of 2,4-D in Washington state, has long been a concern in Oregon. But damage across the state from herbicide drift has become common enough that earlier this year the Oregon Winegrowers Association began selling signs asking neighbors not to spray herbicides within 350 feet of vineyards (under the right conditions, these materials can drift up to 10 miles!).

A total of 175 signs have been purchased to date, with one retailer buying 40, a vineyard manager buying approximately 20 for the properties he oversees, and several individual vineyards also stocking up.

“It’s not because growers of any crops are being wilfully ignorant, certainly not malicious, it’s almost always just a simple error—but unfortunately one that can have a significant economic impact for the off-target crop,” Novak explained.

While the substances are covered through training required to earn an applicator’s license, Novak said knowing what to do isn’t the same as doing what you know.

“There’s that gap between taking the test and reading the study guide and actually doing things out in the field.”

Reach of the problem
The point was amply made in a 2010 survey of growers by Oregon State University associate professor and viticulture extension specialist Patty Skinkis.

The survey attracted 105 participants, of whom 68 reported herbicide damage. Of these, 55% reported that less than 5% of their acreage was damaged.

Where damage was observed, it typically took the form of burned or distorted canopy (44%), reduced canopy growth (37%) and reduced fruit set within clusters (34%).

Approximately 44% of growers spoke with neighbors about the damage to reduce the likelihood of it recurring; 6% spoke to a lawyer and initiated legal action regarding the damage.

Protecting yourself
But in a trenchant observation, Skinkis noted that self-inflicted herbicide damage isn’t uncommon, especially among newer grape growers. Indeed, 10% of growers admitted to onsite misuse as the cause of the damage they observed.

Another survey respondent reported the in-row application of Triclopyr.

“This is a pyridine herbicide that will cause significant damage to grapevines when applied past bud break,” Skinkis reported. “This same person didn’t report any damage, indicating the possibility that they are unaware of herbicide damage risk and how to identify the symptoms. However, they indicated through the survey that they were aware of neighbors that may cause damage to their vineyard. In cases such as this, the education begins with the vineyard owner.”

This is where OVS hopes its self-imposed ban on sales of the most problematic growth regulators will help.

“OVS will advocate for educating the grower and the applicator with regards to alternative product selection, timing, drift management and other practices and methodologies to prevent the negative impact of growth regulator herbicides on sensitive crops,” the company said in a statement announcing the ban.

It’s “not that what we’re doing is necessarily going to solve the overall problem, because there are other retailers that continue to sell these products, but hopefully it gets people’s attention,” Novak explained.

Since amine salt-based herbicides will be available, Novak doesn’t expect growers will have to go without the tools they need, but he does think it will help all users of the products—from grain growers to grape growers—give deeper consideration to how they control weeds.

“It’s not going to require a major change in the way people farm, or that they do without some necessary tools to solve some of their problems,” he said. “It just requires a slight change in thinking.”

Currently no comments posted for this article.

Wines & Vines Home
866.453.9701 | 415.453.9700 | Fax: 415.453.2517
65 Mitchell Blvd., Ste. A San Rafael, CA 94903
Wine Industry Metrics
Off-Premise Sales » Month   12 Months  
October 2014 $570 million
$7,775 million
October 2013 $539 million $7,342 million
Direct-to-Consumer Shipments » Month   12 Months  
October 2014 $284 million
$1,751 million
October 2013 $240 million $1,556 million
Winery Job Index » Month   12 Months  
October 2014 139
October 2013 131 192
MORE » Released on 11.13.2014


Practical Winery & Vineyard Library
Search the PWV archive »

Direct To Consumer
Wine Shipping Report
Download full report »

  • November 16-23
    San Diego Bay Wine + Food Festival
  • November 19-23
    Flavor! Napa Valley
  • November 24-25
    World Bulk Wine Exhibition
  • December 2-4
    Vinitech Sifel in Bordeaux
  • MORE »

Article: Kluge Saga Continues in Virginia »
Not everybody likes Pat Kluge, but she and Moses built a first class winery /...
Reader: Josh Moser
Article: Canada Adapts to Kegged Wines »
I am a wine agent in Manitoba & there certainly are kegs of cider here....
Reader: Guest
Article: What's Your Winery's IP Worth? »
If you would like more information on this seminar please visit The Seminar Group's website....
Reader: Danielle Bingham
Article: DtC Is Lifeblood of Wineries, Banker Says »
Seems like another locical option would be to have more small niche distrbutors. Consolidation of...
Reader: Guest
Article: Tasting Wine From PD-Resistant Grapes »
Congratulations Andy! Lots of grapebreeders and southern growers will be looking through the catalogs. i...
Reader: Guest

Directory/Buyer's Guide — Your Wine Industry Marketplace
Advanced Search »
   by Product
 by Company Name or Brand
Browse by Category »
2015 Directory/Buyer's Guide
The Wines & Vines Directory and Buyer's Guide
Wines & Vines Magazine
Digital Edition Now Available!
Wines & Vines Digital Edition Now Available
The Wines & Vines Online Marketing System
The Industry Standard winery marketing application
Latest Job Listings
 Salesperson/Sales Mana...
 Chicago, IL
Sales and Marketing
 Regional Manager, Mo/K...
 St.Louis Or Kansas City, Mo. (Virtual), MO
Sales and Marketing
 Production Enologist
 Santa Rosa, CA
Winemaking and Production
 Tasting Room Associate
 Angwin, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Viticulturist 1 (Grape...
 Modesto, CA
Winemaking and Production
 Assistant Winemaker
 Healdsburg, CA
Winemaking and Production
 Cellar Worker 3
 Napa, CA
Winemaking and Production
 Market Sales Manager
 San Diego, CA
Sales and Marketing
 Pernod Ricard Retail A...
 Cheyenne, WY
Sales and Marketing
 Sales Consultants
 Fairfield & New Haven Counties, CT
Sales and Marketing
More Job Listings >>
Follow Us On:

Home  |  About Us  |  Editors  |  Subscribe  |  Print Edition  |  Digital Edition

Advertise  |  Site Map  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy
Copyright © 2001-2014 by Wine Communications Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
No material may be reproduced without written permission of the Publisher.
Wines&Vines does not assume any responsibility for any unsolicited manuscripts or materials.