Italian Producers Unlikely to Get Dimethoate Extension Ahead of Harvest

With few viable alternatives, farmers will have to find new ways to cope with the olive fruity fly this year.
Aug. 2, 2021
Ephantus Mukundi

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The Italian Ministry of Health has received a request from olive farm­ers to extend the use of dimethoate for the upcom­ing 2021 har­vest.

However, grow­ers and pro­duc­ers fear there is not enough time for the nec­es­sary reviews to take place for the 120-day exten­sion to be granted.

Before it is approved, the request must first be reviewed by the Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies, the National Phytopathological Service and regional ser­vices.

See Also:Olives Among Foods with Lowest Level of Pesticide Residues in Europe, Study Finds

The ban on the use of dimethoate is already putting the olive farms in the area in cri­sis, pre­cisely because there are no equally effec­tive alter­na­tives,” said Lapo Baldini, the direc­tor of the Tuscan chap­ter of the Italian Confederation of Farmers (CIA).

Ovicidal prod­ucts, whose prac­ti­cal effec­tive­ness has yet to be demon­strated, are more dif­fi­cult to use than a lar­vi­cide such as dimethoate, which acts in a much wider range,” he added. Copper and kaolin (fungi­cides) are deter­rents to the olive fruit fly but do not solve, as we have already seen, the prob­lem in cases of mas­sive fly attacks.”


Given the tech­ni­cal­i­ties and bureau­cra­cies involved in the process, it is unlikely the farm­ers will have their request granted before the end of September.

By then, it will be too late for olive farm­ers to use dimethoate effec­tively, con­sid­er­ing the sup­ply chain restric­tions.

While the dimethoate ban took effect in 2019, con­cerned European Union mem­ber states applied for an exten­sion for using the pes­ti­cide, which lapsed in October 2020.

With hopes of a new exten­sion dwin­dling, olive farm­ers are hard-pressed for alter­na­tives as they pre­pare for a sea­son of fight­ing the olive fly with­out rely­ing on dimethoate.

See Also:Concerns About Dimethoate Ban Among French Olive Growers

Olive farm­ers still can use pes­ti­cides with the active ingre­di­ents of fos­fmet and deltamethrin. The for­mer works as an ovi­ci­dal and par­tially lar­vi­ci­dal prod­uct, while the lat­ter has an adul­ti­ci­dal effect.

The only prob­lem with both of these two active ingre­di­ents is that they tend to have a resid­ual effect on the oil when used within 60 to 90 days of the har­vest. This pre­cludes many extra vir­gin olive oils pro­duced in this period from being exported abroad, specif­i­cally to the United States.

The only other alter­na­tive is using acetamiprid as it has ovi­ci­dal and par­tially lar­vi­cide actions and low resid­u­al­ity. However, its use is lim­ited to two treat­ments annu­ally.

This leaves farm­ers in a tricky posi­tion. It is not advis­able to rely on a lar­vi­ci­dal con­trol method, espe­cially in areas with a high infes­ta­tion, as the olive fly can go through three to four gen­er­a­tions from July to October.

To fight the olive fly men­ace, farm­ers require an adul­ti­cide inter­ven­tion in the first gen­er­a­tion where the infes­ta­tion is low or medium and, when nec­es­sary, fol­low it up with a lar­vi­ci­dal approach.

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