EPA sets new rules for kiwifruit spray


The EPA has implemented new rules for the use of hydrogen cyanamide on kiwifruit and other crops, following a reassessment of the chemical

Hydrogen cyanamide is the active ingredient in products, including Hi-Cane, that are widely used in the kiwifruit industry to help buds form by simulating the effects of frost. It’s also applied to some apple, cherry, apricot, and kiwiberry crops.

Products containing hydrogen cyanamide are restricted to commercial use and can only be used by trained professionals who adhere to strict spraying protocols.

The updated regulations include further restrictions on the way hydrogen cyanamide products are used, how much can be sprayed, and the need for buffer zones when spraying crops.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) conducted comprehensive risk assessments, considered new research about potential effects on health and the environment, and weighed the economic benefits of continuing to use this chemical against the potential impacts on people and the environment.

“We also publicly consulted on our proposed changes and held a hearing, which gave individuals and industry a chance to provide valuable information. This input and our own expert assessments and information were considered by an independent decision-making committee,” says Dr Chris Hill, general manager hazardous substances and new organisms.

“It’s important New Zealanders have confidence that hazardous substances such as hydrogen cyanamide are safe to use, and the rules for their use are appropriate for the level of risk.

“This decision demonstrates our robust reassessment process operating as it was designed to do, with the aim of achieving the best possible outcomes for people and the environment.”

The decision-making committee received a large amount of information from submitters at the hearing and during the reassessment process, and decided to approve the continued use of hydrogen cyanamide because it found the benefits outweigh the potential risks.

Changes to the hydrogen cyanamide approval

The following additional rules for use have been set and take immediate effect:

  • One application can be made per year with a maximum rate for kiwifruit, and all other crops.
  • Spray buffer zones must be created for bystanders, the aquatic environment, and non-target plants downwind.
  • Application is limited to ground-based methods and nozzles and appropriate mixtures of hydrogen cyanamide, water, and/or adjuvants that will produce a coarse or larger droplet size.
  • A maximum wind speed is specified when applying the substance to crops.
  • Spraying is restricted to 1 July to 10 September.
  • More stringent requirements for qualifications are required for professional users.
  • Labelling and packaging requirements must be updated by 1 July 2025.
  • The following changes to hazard classifications for hydrogen cyanamide were also approved:
  • Classify the soluble concentrate as skin and eye corrosive, rather than as an irritant.
  • Change the specific target organ toxicity classification (from Category 1 to 2).
  • Classify as hazardous to soil organisms.

Source: Environmental Protection Authority

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