Chlorpyrifos—sold under the tradename Lorsban— should be legal to use in fruits and vegetables for 2019, according to MSU Extension staff. This insecticide is the main or only option for controlling key pests in crops including apples, asparagus, cabbage, cherries, transplanted onions, peaches, radishes, rutabagas, and turnips.
A national ban on chlorpyrifos — widely used in Michigan’s specialty crop sector — was reinstated following a ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals this past August, according to Michigan Farm Bureau Horticulture Specialist, Kevin Robson.
“That ruling instructed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ‘revoke all tolerances’ and ‘cancel all registrations’ for the pesticide, within 60 days,” Robson explained. “Before that ruling, EPA’s next chlorpyrifos review would not have occurred until 2021.”
Based on recent communications between Michigan State University Extension (MSUE), USDA and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), it appears chlorpyrifos will remain available for use during the 2019 growing season, while legal proceedings drag on.
The legal proceedings may take even longer, since EPA has asked for a rehearing of the case before all judges of the 9th Circuit Court, according to Dave Epstein of USDA. “The 9th Circuit Court has not yet responded, and has given no indication when it will,” he said. “I see no scenario where Lorsban will not be available for use in 2019, as any cancellation would have to undergo a FIFRA review, and that takes time.”
According to MFB’s Robson, chlorpyrifos was first registered for use in 1965 by Dow Chemical to control leafage and ground insects. USDA has continued to support its use by fruit and vegetable growers as part of an environmentally-friendly IPM (integrated pest management) programs for nearly 50 years.
“Michigan Farm Bureau submitted comments to EPA last year regarding the proper use of Chlorpyrifos, as a preventative measure to protect fruit trees from borers,” Robson said. “And we stressed that application is primarily a trunk spray at the onset of the growing season.”
MDARD noted that “even if the 9th Circuit decides not to rehear the case, it’s anticipated that the Trump administration will file an appeal with the Supreme Court.” MDARD also noted that even if the case were settled sooner, rather than later, they would expect a phase-out process rather than an immediate ban.
While it’s impossible to predict exactly what will happen for 2019, Robson recommends Michigan growers monitor the legal status and proceeding by visiting the EPA’s chlorpyrifos website.