MRL-based decisions can actually result in more pesticide being sprayed, he said.

This often happens when older, more broad spectrum products must be used because they have MRLs while newer, less disruptive compounds cannot be used because they are not cleared by the receiving country.

Access to the correct MRL information is critical and he said the agchem industry largely “has not been very good” in getting the latest MRL information to growers with the exception of BASF.

Bob Elliott, vice president of Sunkist growers, said the cooperative’s efforts to meet export MRLs is challenging because half of Sunkist’s 3,000 growers have groves of less than 20 acres. This makes it difficult to match pesticide use with exported citrus MRLs.

Thirty percent of Sunkist’s volume is exported, primarily to the Far East. Emerging markets in developing countries also are growing in importance because they often buy off-size fruit that would otherwise go to the less lucrative juice market.

Growing pressure from the citrus pysllid and its vectored, deadly citrus greening could run head long into export MRLs because the industry critically needs pest management materials that can contain a “potential industry buster” challenge. Those products may not have MRLs in critical customer countries like Taiwan, which is chronically behind in setting MRLs on newer products.

The citrus industry, like many other fresh fruit and vegetable exporters, is dependent on fungicides to prevent significant retail decay. There are products registered in the U.S. to protect fruit, but they may not have an MRL for important Far East citrus markets.