“The public need to realise that banning glyphosate will increase food costs”

Polish orchard farmer Krzystof explains how effectively controlling weeds with glyphosate allows him to produce high quality apples and cherries on his farm

 

“My name is Krzystof and I am 53 years old. I am an apple and cherry farmer in central Poland, not far from Warsaw. My grandfather originally started an orchard here before World War Two, where he had apple trees and pear trees.

I was born into what had become a fruit farmer’s family. My father had gradually given up on arable farming and keeping cows or pigs, and moved solely on to fruit farming.

My father was a natural born fruit farmer, I guess. Back then, fruit farming was not that developed in our country, and he learned from the professors who pioneered it in Poland.

When I took over the farm in the 1980s, I brought a number of changes. One of these was building a refrigerated store room with a controlled atmosphere and we also started a nursery for imported tree rootstocks. On our farm, we had already started using glyphosate in the early 80s.

“The public should know that withdrawing glyphosate from the market would have a very negative impact on fruit farming” Polish farmer Krzystof

Before glyphosate we had already seen the situation on our farm improve after the introduction of other herbicides, meaning we could devote more time to apple production and less to fighting weeds. You could apply a herbicide once every three or four weeks, and then the weeds were just gone.

After the introduction of glyphosate, our situation improved even more. We use glyphosate now on our farm, applying it twice a year. Or, if in a given year there is more vegetation growth, we perform one more application in the autumn.

The advantages that glyphosate brought meant that we now had something to effectively fight weeds with. We’ve used it around our young trees and it’s all nice and clear now at their base; there are no weeds at all. The next application will be when the weeds are about five centimetres tall, when they’re germinating.

 

 

I’ve learned many things from my father, but the most important thing for a fruit farmer is what we call punctuality. In this business, you can’t put things off. In an orchard, you can’t fight weeds tomorrow. If the right time to do it is now, then you have to do it, and if no one else is around, then you’ve got to do it yourself.

We only get one harvest a year, so we need to care for it. This approach is what we must pass on to the next generation. They have to learn that you can’t put things off, and that even a simple thing like tackling weeds must not be postponed.

Another important thing passed from my father to me is enthusiasm. My father’s passion for orchards is so strong that, in spite of his illness and hardly being able to move around on his own, last year, when this orchard was full of cherries, and I brought him here to show him, he jumped out of the car like an 18-year-old. He disappeared into the orchard, and when he came back, he wasn’t using his cane for support. Only the strength of your passion can do this.

Polish orchard farmer Krzystof stands next to a crate

In our orchards, we use glyphosate two to three times in a growing season. In fruit farming, people tend to use smaller doses than recommended. We only spray on the strips of land where the trees grow and not in the spaces between, where there’s only grass.

Just like any other plant protection product, glyphosate must be used carefully, rationally, and in line with the label instructions.

I do most of the glyphosate applications myself, although sometimes it’s an employee of mine that does it. Every couple of years we are required to take repeat courses in agricultural chemistry. Your certificate expires and you have to take another course. Both my employee and myself attend these courses, so we’re properly trained.

I pay particular attention to whether there is wind or not. If there is any wind at all I do not apply as we only use glyphosate it when it’s dead calm, to prevent it from floating across the ground. We do this as otherwise it could come in contact with our apple trees or other plants which are important to us.

The sprayer must be set to a very low pressure, as you don’t want it to spray a mist. Instead you need to have very fine droplets; then the application is effective and you won’t burn your plants.

The public should know that withdrawing glyphosate from the market would have a very negative impact on fruit farming. Production costs will definitely go up as we look to use more time and energy consuming methods of weed control. When production costs go up, prices in shops also go up and people should be aware of this.

The use of other herbicides would require a greater number of applications, which would result in more environmental pollution. For fruit farmers, there is no alternative to glyphosate because there are no other products that do what it does.”