2020 Vegetable Crops Chemical Use Report

The 2020 Agricultural Chemical Use Survey of vegetable producers collected data about pesticide use as well as pest management practices on acres planted to 22 different vegetable crops. NASS conducted the survey among producers in 18 states, focusing on the states that were major producers for the surveyed crops. (Fig. 1)

Data are for the 2020 crop year, the one-year period beginning after the 2019 harvest and ending with the 2020 harvest. Data are available online for all 22 vegetables (see sidebar for how to access). This report highlights the three vegetables sampled in the most states: onions, pumpkins, and snap beans.

Who Uses Agricultural Chemical Use Data?

Producers, consumers, suppliers, policymakers, USDA and other federal and state agencies rely on chemical use and other pest management data to make decisions about health, environment, safety, and trade issues. Some examples of how the data are used:

  • To evaluate the quality and safety of U.S. food products, providing assurances to both domestic and international customers.

  • To identify industry trends and determine the impact of on-farm chemical use and pest management.

  • To assess the quality of streams, rivers, and groundwater; the impact of human activities; the benefits of conservation practices; and the effectiveness of integrated pest management.

  • To identify which chemicals farmers count on, making it more likely regulators will re-register the product.

Pesticide Use

The pesticide active ingredients used on vegetables are classified as herbicides (targeting weeds), insecticides (targeting insects), fungicides (targeting fungal disease), and other chemicals (targeting all other pests and other materials, including extraneous crop foliage).

Onion growers applied herbicides to slightly more acres (91% of planted acres) than fungicides or insecticides (90% and 73% of planted acres, respectively). Pumpkin growers applied herbicides and fungicides to 79% and 75% of planted acres, respectively. Snap bean growers applied herbicides to 94% of planted acres but insecticides and fungicides to fewer acres. (Fig. 2). Further detail on the top pesticides can be found in Table 1.

Pest Management Practices

The survey asked growers to report on the practices they used to manage pests, including weeds, insects, and diseases. Vegetable growers reported practices in four categories of pest management strategy, widely referred to as PAMS – prevention, avoidance, monitoring, and suppression. Table 2 shows the top practice in each category.

  • Prevention practices involve actions to keep a pest population from infesting a crop or field.

  • Avoidance practices use cultural measures to mitigate or eliminate the detrimental effects of pests.

  • Monitoring practices involve observing or detecting pests through systematic sampling, counting, or other forms of scouting.

  • Suppression practices involve controlling or reducing existing pest populations to mitigate crop damage. 

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