[NAFEX] Organicism

Mark & Helen Angermayer hangermayer at isp.com
Sat Dec 15 01:20:46 EST 2007

  On Dec 14, 2007, at 1:15 PM, Mark & Helen Angermayer wrote:

  On the other hand natural chemicals can be just as deadly.  The alkaloid poisons in some plants will bring death to humans in less than an hour.  If I recall the LD50 of nicotine is fairly low, as it is for Rotenone (which is approved for organic use.) 
Rivka wrote:
"Rotenone is no longer approved for organic use in the USA; hasn't been since the federal rule went into effect, and was controversial for some time before that. Nicotine not only is not currently acceptable, it hasn't been considered acceptable for organic use for many years, long before the USDA got into it; though if your source for organic information dates to the 1940's or so you might see it suggested in such old literature."

My reply:
Well Rivka, I may be a country bumkin, but my information isn't quite that old :-)  I wasn't suggesting nicotine was approved for organic use, rather my point was just because something is natural doesn't mean it's automatically safer than a synthetic.  On the Rotenone, I don't know where I read it was approved for organic use, but you're correct, it's not.  Perhaps I read it was an organic alternative to synthetic chemicals (it's still marketed all over the Internet as an organic product and in most peoples mind it fits the definition, you know, natural=organic=good for you).

Rivka wrote:
"Now I grant that none of those were done on apples in the Northeast. I don't grow apples, and so can't comment on them in great detail; but it's true that part of organic growing is to choose the crops, and the varieties of those crops, that are better suited to grow in the specific location of the particular farm. From all I've heard, apples are difficult to grow organically in this area, at least if you want them to look pretty; I think there are some people doing it, though. (However, I have grown organic cilantro and dill for years, and unlike Mark, I never had any insect problems in either of them. Mark, had the land been in non-organic use previously? is it possible that the local beneficial insect population was low due to previous pesticide use, or to such use in the immediately surrounding area."

My reply:
Perhaps that's my point, and maybe yours too.  Some locales/climates have more insect pressure than others.  I'd like to grow more than persimmon and pawpaw here, so I've resolved I have to spray.  I've not seen any university research that indicates organic fruit production is a reality in my climate.  On the contrary, from what I've read, the university research that has been done suggests otherwise.  If you know of any, I'd be interested in any university studies that have made a go of organic fruit production in the Midwest.  As a question, what organic product would you even use to control, let's say, Oriental Fruit moth?  Traps only catch the males.  I'm not willing to spray an Aluminum based product like Surround.  There may be mating disruption products, but for my small scale they're too expensive.  The only thing left I know of is to bag, but that will eventually become too labor intensive.  Around here insects do not just cause cosmetic damage.  Even pears around here get at least 70% codling moth damage if left to their own (and that's picking them early).  The wormy fruit doesn't ripen properly and it certainly won't store.

So far my experiences with organic haven't been that good.  One year I sprayed twice with copper (organic) and still had peach leaf curl.  The next I switched to Chloranthalanil and had zero peach leaf curl.  Both chemicals are not good for the environment.  

This summer I had a problem with Raspberry Crown borer.  I purchased some parasitic nematodes for control.  University studies showed at best a 50% control, but I tried it anyway-three different types.  I checked them with a microscope and they were alive and vigorous.  They are supposed to control June bug larva also, so I did a test.  Dug up a bunch of June bug grubs (they're all over around here) put them in a bucket and inoculated the bucket with nematodes.  In short, out of all the grubs in the bucket, I only found one the nematodes might have killed.

I tried farmscaping/companion planting, plants recommended for beneficials-no results.

I don't want to list others, but they've also had an affect on my decision.  Dennis Norton said he started out organic but couldn't make it work.  Likewise, I've read the same about Ed Fackler.

As I said organic may work for some areas, but for around here, I'll take a Missouri attitude-Show Me.


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