STANDING AT THE CROSSROADS (Part I)
ADAPTIVE VARIETY SELECTION AND THE UNCERTAIN ROLE OF IMIDACLOPRIDS IN THE FUTURE OF SOUTHERN GRAPE CULTURE
By: R.L. Winters, Fairhaven Vineyards
Master Horticulturist/Ampelographer Fairhaven American Hybrid Research Foundation
[VT – Please welcome back VintageTexas guest blogger R.L. Winters in this three part blog on the impact of the use of imidacloprid pesticides our grape culture in Texas and the American Southland.] Click here for Part II, click here for Part III.
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In the late winter of 2005 Florida beekeeper Bill Rhodes was busy working his usual day’s tasks, the drudgery of preparing hundreds of his bee colonies for shipment to the vast almond groves of California, where they would facilitating the production of an important national crop. He noticed an unusual behavior while conducting regular maintenance of the hives…
The bees responded to the routine splitting of the hives by refusing to occupy the split sections! Something he hadn’t seen before in decades of experience working with these tiny denizens of nature.
Once the broods arrived in California, Rhodes went out to inspect the hives, marking them and returning within the week to check again. “The hive would look entirely different,” Rhodes said. “It was like something just had them by the throat and was just pulling the strength from them. We had no idea what it was.” Of the sixteen semi-loads of pollinators Rhodes had shipped to the location only two were serviceable. The rest had perished.
Backtracking to where the brood had been previously contracted, led Rhodes back to a fruit farming operation in South Dakota. The farm was located immediately adjacent to vast acres of sunflowers that were literally dripping with imidacloprid.
What this simple, thoughtful, beekeeper had identified was later to become known as Colony Collapse Disorder. Overnight, Rhodes had become the unwilling Paul Revere of the basis of world crop production, shouting a warning that would circle the globe!
THIS IS THE STORY
Imidacloprid is a type of neonicotinoid insecticide that was first registered for use in the United States in 1994. The chemical compound, a synthetic form of nicotine, was originally approved for use in ornamentals, and turf application to control sucking or chewing insects. The product is marketed under many different trade names: Alias, Merit, Gaucho, Provado, Montana, Nuprid, Marathon, Adonis, Macho, and Dominion.