Herbicide Damage Estimates Triple

Published online: Jun 26, 2001
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Herbicide damage estimates of sugarbeet crops in Southern Idaho have increased from 10,000 to 38,000 acres. Initial tests have shown that the damage comes from applications of Oust, a Dupont product, by the Bureau of Land Management to 17,000 acres of land scorched by wildfires last year. The bureau has discontinued use of the product.

Montana State University conducted tests and determined the range of contamination ranges from 0.079 parts per billion to 24 ppb. Crop damage ranges from moderate damage to death.

How the herbicide damage came about is still under speculation. Dust storms that have swept through Southern Idaho may have carried contaminated soil particles. Drought conditions have not helped because there is little vegetation to hold the soil down. The BLM is also gathering information regarding other chemicals growers have used.

It is too early to ascertain how the crop damage will affect yields and sugar production. Amalgamated Sugar Company is also considering destruction of the affected acreage to prevent the chemical from carrying through the food chain.