South Tyrol's organic apple farmers have a new big problem: phosphite residues, which could be fatal in marketing. Arnold Schuler emphasized that this problem is completely new, according to the Südtiroler Tageszeitung. "We were surprised that there is another change in terms of residue controls," he said.
Financial losses feared
It is about so-called phosphites, which are used as fertilizers in fruit growing, increasingly being mixed in with pesticides for better efficacy. "It's a synthetic compound that stays in the plant and will only be excreted after some years. This will become a big issue in the near future, because the market wants a completely residue-free product," says Werner Castiglioni, Managing Director of cooperative Bio Südtirol.
Organic farmers are very worried that people will no longer consider their apples as organic, which will severely affect their bottom line. This is a problem for South Tyrol in particular, as there are many different and conflicting ways of cultivation within a small area.
'Rules have changed'
As Werner Castiglioni and Toni Riegler, chairman of the Bioland Südtirol association, explain, this is not just a problem of substances drifting off to adjacent lots. Even those growers who have converted or are converting their lots to organic cultivation, are confronted with phosphite residues. The conversion period of three years is often not sufficient for the compound to disappear.
Arnold Schuler is somewhat annoyed: "The increased use of phosphite in integrated fruit growing was actually positive, because it is hardly toxic. Also, in the organic sector, phosphite residues have so far not been a problem. But now, apparently, the rules of the game are changing again."