Mystery poison spray kills vines
Two North Canterbury winegrowers say they are "devastated" watching their vineyards die after a routine insecticide spray went horribly wrong.
Brent Knight and Trevor Bunting claim a common moth insecticide used on the vines in early December had been mislabelled by chemical manufacturing giant Dow AgroSciences.
The unidentified compound sprayed on the vines had all but wiped out Bunting's Dallington Downs vineyard in Waipara, with Knight's two Mackenzies Rd blocks partially affected.
Knight contracts out vineyard maintenance and services, and sprayed Bunting's property with the same chemical he used on his own land, manufactured by Dow AgroSciences and supplied by CRT.
"There has been a major problem not of our making with a grape spray product which was mislabelled," the pair said in a statement issued by their lawyer last night.
"We expect, however, that CRT and Dow will engage with us and meet their responsibilities to us."
Dow AgroScience has not yet admitted any liability.
Managing director Pete Dryden said the company was in the early stages of an investigation into the situation, which it had been notified of after the spraying took place.
"We are working with the growers involved to determine what the cause of the problem is," Dryden said. "It's early stages at the moment, and it will take some time to determine what's happened, whether we [Dow] are involved, and what a remedy could be." He would not confirm if the spray used on the vineyards was being tested.
CRT Farmlands chief executive Brent Esler said it had supplied the Dow insecticide concerned, which it believed had been mislabelled.
However, he said CRT did not have systems in place for confirming the products supplied matched the labels on the packaging.
"This is very much the responsibility of our suppliers," Esler said.
"[Dow's] control systems are among the best, but in any operation, mistakes can happen, mechanical function or human error or other.
"It is then the quality of the supplier is really tested - in how they respond to incidents such as this."
A nearby Waipara vineyard owner, who did not want to be named, said the incident had shocked growers in the area.
"Brent and Trevor put their hearts and souls on the line for their vineyards."
Knight and Bunting said Dow and CRT had so far been open and communicative.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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