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MailTribune.com
  • Signs let farmers know their herbicides can harm local vineyards

    Wine-grape growers group is most worried about effects of 2,4-D
  • The state's largest organization of wine-grape growers is making signs for distribution to vintners who are concerned with the risks herbicides can pose to vineyards.
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  • The state's largest organization of wine-grape growers is making signs for distribution to vintners who are concerned with the risks herbicides can pose to vineyards.
    The Oregon Winegrowers Association is making fence-post signs available to wineries and vineyard owners. The signs alert farmers who are using 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, commonly referred to as 2,4-D, about the potential danger to the state's 25,000 acres of vineyards.
    The systemic herbicide, used in the control of broadleaf weeds, is one of the most widely used herbicides in the world, and is the third-most commonly used herbicide in North America.
    When it drifts beyond its target weed population, it can create a threat, specifically when it hits a pocket of cool air and falls on vines.
    Grapes are among the most sensitive of all plants to this chemical's ability to disrupt growth. In some instance, the herbicide can kill otherwise healthy, mature vines.
    The damage can be long-term, and sometimes the plants don't recover and must be replaced," said Laura Lotspeich of Trium winery. "This is expensive not just for the one year but a reduced crop for years, and the cost of replacement and management can be huge."
    She said her neighbors along Rapp Lane outside Talent have been understanding about potential damage. But not everyone is cognizant of the implications.
    The OWA is providing the 12-by-18-inch signs for $21 each through the OWA office in Portland.
    "The signs are probably important for roadside sprays and new folks," Lotspeich said. "Some states have established a given price per plant for over-spray damage. That can be a deterrent for those folks who don't seem to care about drift or over-spray."
    In Washington, the most volatile forms of 2,4-D have been banned. The OWA said a form less prone to drift is restricted for use from April 5 through Oct. 31. In the wine-growing counties of California, strict rules apply to any purchase and application of the herbicide.
    "It's important to get the word out on the hazards of its use on other nearby agriculture, and these signs will enhance awareness," said Dan Marca of Dancin' Vineyards on South Stage Road.
    Grape growers who want to order signs can reach the OWA at 503-228-8336.
    Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregMTBusiness, friend him on Facebook and read his blog at www.mailtribune.com/Economic Edge.
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