Pesticide drift threatens Lodi vines4th July, 2014 by Lauren Eads
A major pesticide drift is threatening up to 25,000 acres of vineyards in California’s Lodi wine country after a powerful weed-killing cocktail was dropped nearby.
At least 200 growers are said to have already been affected after pesticides were dropped by air on Bouldin Island, 10 miles west of Lodi, between May 15 to 28, according to a report by Wine Industry Insight.
The weed-killing chemicals, which can damage the vine and this year’s crop have been drifting dangerously close to Lodi wine country with damage already reported in the nearby Clements area.
Winemakers have expressed concern that any contamination of grapes with unapproved chemicals could make them unfit for production, which risks wiping out this year’s harvest.
The San Joaquin County Agricultural County Commissioners have been investigating the drift since May but have as yet not commented.
However independent tests, conducted by winemakers in the area, have confirmed the presence of glyphosate and Imazapyr on vines, both common components in weed killer.
Wilbur-Ellis Company, which supplied the chemicals, sent a letter to customers earlier this month acknowledging that some of those chemicals may have drifted onto crops for which they were not intended.
The chemicals were being used to wipe out all vegetation on Bouldin Island so that it can be flooded and developed into a system of reservoirs and habitats to store water which could then be sold on the open market by Delta Wetlands Properties (DWP) – an Illinois-based private water investment company.
The investigation is ongoing.