There has been debate on what chemical insecticides local blueberry farmers are spraying on their crops and why farmers spray of a night-time.
There has been debate on what chemical insecticides local blueberry farmers are spraying on their crops and why farmers spray of a night-time. Trevor Veale

'Nothing untoward' with chemical spraying on blueberry farms

DISCUSSION on radio this morning posed questions whether Coffs Coast blueberry farmers are spraying their crops at night due to public safety issues and the concoction of poisonous chemicals they are spraying?

After hearing the discussion on radio this morning, Southern Cross Honey and Pollination, which supplies 400 bee hives to local blueberry farmers supplying the Oz Berries Group, contacted The Advocate to shed light on the situation.

A company spokesman said blueberry farmers are spraying their crops between dusk and midnight so insecticide residue has dried by morning when bees from the supplied hives are active pollinating the crops.

"The farmers are spraying of a night-time to look after our bees really," a company spokesman said.

"Farmers cannot spray in the middle of the day because it burns the leaves of the blueberry plants.

"The days of spraying nasty chemicals around are gone.

"There is nothing untoward going on at the blueberry farms I supply my bees too, just because they are seen to be spraying their crops of a night-time.

The company spokesman said most local blueberry farmers are rotating the insecticides known as 'Prodigy', which controls moths, caterpillars, heliothis, and bug varieties, and 'Success', which controls moths, butterflies, caterpillars, grubs, slugs and thrips, to ensure problem insects don't build up resistance to one particular brand of spray.

"These chemicals clear within a day or so, I believe, but if the farmers are using another insecticide known as Lannate than that's a worry," the beekeeper said.

"It's like letting off a nuclear bomb for all insects including bees."

 

Pickers harvest blueberries on a local farm.
Pickers harvest blueberries on a local farm. Trevor Veale

Another concern raised by neighbours living near local blueberry farms is spray drift onto their properties.

The local beekeeper said given the cost of the chemicals blueberry farmers aren't going to waste their chemicals by spraying in windy conditions.

"They want the best coverage they can get. A chemical like Prodigy retails for $1500 a litre, they sure aren't going to be wasting it over their neighbours' fences."

"After hearing the discussion on radio I just thought I would ring in and clear up a bit of information for the general public as to why farmers are spraying of a night-time.

"If a farmer is spraying between 3am and 9am personally they won't be having my bees on their property. There's no way the chemical will have cleared by the time the bees are active of a morning.

"Put it this way without bees there are no blueberries, no fruit and there's no profit."

Southern Cross Honey and Pollination supplies two species of bees to local farms for crop pollination, Italian bees (yellow banded bees) and caucasian bees (known for their black appearance).



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