tulip image via Shutterstock
Hey, good news! Pesticide use on California-grown cut flowers is way down over the last decade, according to this report from UC. California has required farms to file monthly pesticide use reports since 1990, and since 2001 those reports have been more crop-specific, making it possible to track pesticide use on cut flowers specifically.
Overall pesticide use on cut flowers has declined a whopping 50% in the last decade. And of the pesticides still in use, many of them are organic controls like sulfur. According to the report, the cut flower industry “is slanting away from the use of traditional, broad-spectrum materials such as organophosphates and carbamates towards inorganic products like soaps and oils, botanicals, insect pathogens, insect growth regulators and the use of biological control agents.”
Worker exposure/injury due to pesticide use is also down, and this is a major concern that doesn’t get discussed often enough. Usually, when we talk about pesticide use, it’s all about residue on the food we eat or impact on honeybees and the rest of the environment–but the people who grow our food and flowers deserve a safe workplace, and that means cutting harmful chemicals so they aren’t exposed to them.
Good stuff! To what do we owe this change? The report lists a lot of changes, some of them remarkably simple (using fine mesh screens to keep bugs out of greenhouses) and some of them more sophisticated (pheremone traps and the like). But these are the two that really give me hope:
“(8) a new generation of growers who have grown up under the concept of going green
(9) a consuming public with a greater acceptance of organic production and with an increasing negative perspective of pesticides”
Young, smart farmers and public pressure!
If you want to find flowers grown with sustainable methods, look for the Veriflora label and of course the CA Grown label is showing up on more flowers all the time. More on all this at the California Cut Flower Commission, too.
And I love what Debra Prinzing is doing with the subject of American-grown flowers, on her website and through her books Slow Flowers and The 50-Mile Bouquet. It was nice to see Flower Confidential cited in the UC report–it’s been out a few years, but still gives a fairly good overview of the flower industry, and is even used as the basis for a horticulture class at UC Davis.
h/t to Grower Talks.