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  • US nut growers benefit from EU phosphite MRL extension

    Jun 16th, 2016

    The news that the European Union is extending its maximum residue limit (MRL) for phosphite-containing products until March 1, 2019, retroactive to Jan. 1, 2016, is pleasing California’s nut industries.This means growers of almonds, pistachios, and walnuts can continue to ship nuts with a level of 75 parts per million (PPM). The extension does not apply to pecans which must meet the proposed 2 PPM standard.For now, the higher standard also applies to cashews, hazelnuts, and macadamias.Phosphites are used to varying degrees by almond, pistachio, and walnut growers to combatPhytophthora and Pythium which can cause root rot, tree death, and severely reduced yields.

    “Almond growers really like them for rainier conditions,” said Gabrielle Ludwig, director of sustainability and environmental affairs the Almond Board of California (ABC). “They believe their trees are happier. They use them for root health and to enhance the plant’s immune response system.”She sees the MRL extension as good and hopes the higher level MRL will also be applied to pecans.Ludwig said the stricter control was triggered when the EU changed the categorization for phosphite to a pesticide, not a fertilizer.She said it was aimed at a product called Fosetyl-Al which California growers do not use but which contains phosphite residues.Almonds log the largest agricultural export value to Europe. Thirty percent of the California crop goes to Europe, Ludwig said.Mark Brady, western marketing manager for Plant Food Systems Inc., which is headquartered in Florida, says that if phosphites are withheld from the industry, average yields would suffer a 20 to 30 percent decline and there are no affordable substitutes available either in terms of disease control or safe food standards.