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The Future Role of Pesticides in US Agriculture 2 Benefits, Costs and Contemporary Use Patterns BENEFITS OF PESTICIDES Pesticides are an integral component of US agriculture and account for about 4.5% of total farm production costs (Aspelin and Grube, 1999). Pesticide use in the United States averaged over 1.2 billion pounds of active ingredient in 1997, and was associated with expenditures exceeding $11.9 billion; this use involved over 20,700 products and more than 890 active ingredients. Herbicides account for the greatest use in volume and expenditure; in 1997, 568 million pounds was used in agriculture, commerce, home, and garden. Insecticide applications constituted 168 million pounds, and fungicides 165 million pounds. Use patterns of pesticides vary with crop type, locality, climate, and user needs (Aspelin and Grube, 1999). Pesticides are used so extensively because they provide many benefits to farmers and by extension to consumers. From the time when synthetic pesticides were developed after World War II, there have been major increases in agricultural productivity accompanied by an increase in efficiency, with fewer farmers on fewer farms producing more food for more people (Figure 2-1) (Rasmussen et al. 1998). A major factor in the changing productivity patterns, either directly or indirectly, has been the use of pesticides. In maize, for example, there has been 3-fold increase in yields since 1950. Although to a large extent this increase is attributable to the adoption of new hybrids with increased disease and insect resistance and with the ability to use more nitrogen fertilizer, another major factor
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The Future Role of Pesticides in US Agriculture FIGURE 2-1 Index of farm productivity in the United States, 1948–1996. aThe index of productivity was determined by dividing all input values (such as feed, seed, livestock purchases, and pesticides) by all output values (such as feed crops, poultry, and eggs). Input and output values are unit-free quantity indexes that measure change over time as weighted by price. They were determined with Fisher 's Ideal Index number procedure (also known as geometric mean of Laspayres and Paache indexes). Source Data from Ball et al., 1997. has been changes in planting practices facilitated by the availability of effective herbicides. Historically, for example, corn was planted in hills of three or more plants and, in many cases, in check rows, which allowed farmers to cultivate the corn in two directions for weed control. With the advent of effective herbicides, farmers switched from hill planting to drilled, narrow-row planting. The plant population increased from 10,000–12,000 plants per acre to 25,000–30,000 plants per acre. That led to the development of new high-yield hybrids that could tolerate the high population densities. Herbicides also allowed corn to be planted earlier in the growing season, and this resulted in a higher yield potential for the crop. Before herbicides, corn had to be planted later so that the first flushes of weeds could be killed with tillage. The development of soil-applied insecticides also allowed more farmers to grow maize for multiple years and increased productivity on an area-wide basis. Wheat production has
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The Future Role of Pesticides in US Agriculture also benefited from the use of herbicides; earlier, broadleaf and grass weeds caused great losses in yield. Cultivation is not practical in cereals, in contrast with maize. The introduction of 2,4-D and grass herbicides increased yields by controlling the weeds without damaging the crop (Warren 1998). The beneficial impact of insecticides is illustrated by patterns of cotton cultivation in the southern United States. When Anthonomus grandis, the boll weevil, crossed the Rio Grande in 1892, it rapidly spread through the lower Southeast and drove major cotton production out of many states. With the advent of synthetic organic insecticides, farmers were able to return previously infested areas to cotton cultivation. Boll weevil eradication programs combining chemical control with other management practices have further expanded acreage in cotton (Carlson and Sugiyama 1985). That example also illustrates the complexity of pesticide issues. After the boll weevil outbreaks exerted their initial damage, southern farmers were forced to diversify their crops. The long-term result was of such strong economic benefit that the citizens of Enterprise, Alabama, erected a monument in their town square inscribed “in profound appreciation of the boll weevil and what it has done as the herald of prosperity” (Pfadt 1978). Plant disease can be devastating for crop production, as was tragically illustrated in the Irish potato famine of 1845–1847; indeed, this disaster led to the development of the science of plant pathology (Agrios 1988). Disease is still a major problem in potato production, and over 90% of the acreage in the United States is treated with a fungicide to prevent yield loss. In the Columbia Basin, a late blight epidemic (caused by new aggressive strains of Phytophthora infestans) occurred in 1995, and affected 65,000 ha (Johnson et al. 1997). This area accounts for about 20% of US potato production. Left unchecked, the late blight epidemic could have decreased yield by 30–100%. With the use of several fungicides, the epidemic was controlled, and there was only a 4–6% loss in yield and no increase in storage loss compared with previous years (Johnson et al. 1997). One of the major benefits of pesticides is the protection of yield. According to one estimate (Oerke et al. 1994), yields of many crops could decrease by as much as 50%, particularly because of insect and disease damage, without crop-protection. Knutson et al. (1990) estimated that removing pesticides from US agriculture would cause crop-production to decline, particularly in the southern states, and increase cultivated acreage by 10% to compensate for crop yield losses. Crop yield losses were estimated at 24–57%, depending on the crop species, if no pesticides or alternative crop protection measures were used. Moreover, exports in this scenario would decrease by 50%, and consumer expenditures for food would increase by about $228 per year and be accompanied by an in-
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The Future Role of Pesticides in US Agriculture crease in inflation as food prices increased. However, those estimates failed to take into account the possibility that other pest-control strategies could be used or that new technologies could be developed in the absence of chemical control (Jaenicke 1997). A survey conducted by the Weed Science Society of America (Bridges and Anderson, 1992) estimated that the total US crop loss due to weeds is about $4 billion a year. In the absence of herbicides and best management practices, this loss could theoretically increase to $19.5 billion. The estimated loss in crops grown without herbicides ranged from 20% for corn and wheat up to 80% in peanuts (Bridges and Anderson, 1992). Pesticide use also provides some benefits directly to consumers. Zilberman et al. (1991) estimated that every $1 increase in pesticide expenditure raises gross agricultural output by $3.00–6.50. Most of that benefit is passed on to consumers in the form of lower prices for food. Major losses prevented by pesticide use are those experienced during transport and storage. Oerke et al. (1994) estimated that about 50% of the harvested crop, particularly of such perishable crops as fruits and vegetables, could be lost in transport and storage because of insects and disease in the absence of pesticide use. Moreover, pesticide use can improve food quality in storage by reducing the incidence of such fungal contaminants as aflatoxins, known liver carcinogens, which are responsive to fungicides. The use of herbicides has reduced the need for growers to cultivate to control weeds and that reduction has led to an increase in the practices associated with conservation tillage. These include no-till, ridge-till, striptill, and mulch-till—practices that leave at least 30% cover after planting. Leaving cover after planting reduces soil loss due to wind and water erosion up to 90%, and it increases crop residue (organic matter) on the soil surfaces up to 40% (CTIC, 1998a). Conservation tillage in the United States has increased from 26.1% of the total acreage in 1990 to 37.2% of the total acreage in 1998 (1998b). Without herbicides, widespread adoption of conservation tillage would likely not have taken place. Although agriculture accounts for two-thirds of all expenditures on pesticides and three-fourths of total volume used, nonagricultural uses of pesticides are also substantial. Pesticides are used on some 2 million US farms but they are also used in some 74 million households (albeit at much lower rates). Expenditures for home and garden use of pesticides in US households were approaching $2 billion a year in 1996, most of it on insecticides ($1.34 billion), fungicides and repellents ($185 million), and herbicides ($479 million) (Aspelin and Grube, 1999). Estimating the economic benefit of household pesticides is difficult in that in most cases no tangible product is sold for a profit. Benefits are often aesthetic rather than economic (although aesthetic improvement can increase traffic at a place of business or increase the resale value of a
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The Future Role of Pesticides in US Agriculture residence). Even if difficult to measure, the aesthetic benefits of controlling pests in homes, gardens, and lawns, must be sufficient for homeowners to use pesticide products despite reservations about their safety (Potter and Bessin 1998); close to 85% of US households contain at least one pesticide product in storage (Whitmore et al., 1993). Control of household pests can potentially provide health benefits because insect allergens (including those present in cockroach excrement and body parts) contribute to asthma, particularly in children. The presence of domiciliary cockroaches is strongly associated with sensitization to cockroach allergens, and sensitization has been associated with the incidence of bronchial asthma (Duffy et al., 1998). About 70% of urban residents with asthma are sensitive to cockroach allergens. The high mortality and morbidity of inner-city children due to asthma are linked to exposure to cockroach allergens (Petersen and Shurdut, 1999). That cockroach control could reduce the incidence of asthma is suggested by the positive correlation between the degree of cockroach sensitivity and the number of cockroaches seen in infested dwellings by residents. Helm et al. (1993), for example, established a quantitative relationship between cockroach density and the amount of cockroach aeroallergens. However, particularly in multifamily households, reducing cockroach numbers does not always lower the incidence of asthma (Gergen et al., 1999). The decision of whether to treat for cockroaches at present is determined not by an economic injury level (EIL), but rather by an aesthetic level. EILs cannot be calculated, because an economic value of human life cannot be easily assessed. No-observed-effect levels (NOEL) based on detectable levels of cholinesterase depression, however, can be established for the organophosphate agents used for cockroach control. Assessments of air and surface residues and biological monitoring have been used to evaluate multiple exposures of residents of homes undergoing crack and crevice treatment with organophosphates (summarized in Peterson and Shurdut, 1999). Maximum daily exposures were calculated at 2.4–8% of the reference dose (RfD) for children and less than 1% of the RfD for adults (RfD is the dose at or below which aggregate exposure every day over the course of a lifetime does not pose a significant risk). Use of chlorpyrifos, the agent of choice for crack and crevice treatment, was thought to result in minimal exposures and did not pose an appreciable risk to residents. Thus, even if aesthetic and health benefits are difficult to quantify, they still are expected to be offset by very low risk factors for chemical agents currently in use. On June 8, 2000, US EPA revised their risk assessment for this compound based on the mandates of the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) and eliminated chlorpyrifos for residential use. After December 31, 2001, retailers will not be able to sell any chlorpyrifos for home use except in baits with child-resistant packaging
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The Future Role of Pesticides in US Agriculture (EPA 2000). Risks are not so easily quantified for nonchemical alternatives for cockroach abatement (such as baits, cleaning, and microbial agents), but they are expected to be low (Peterson and Shurdut, 1999). Control of stinging hymenopterans, which kill about 40 people in the United States every year (Merck & Co., 2000), has considerable health benefits, which are difficult to quantify given the problems associated with assigning value to human life. In summary, in the context of production agriculture and ancillary enterprises, pesticides are intended to Increase yields. Increase farming efficiency. Increase availability of fruits and vegetables. Supply low-cost food and fiber for consumers. Improve food quality. Decrease loss of food during transport and storage. Improve soil conservation. Ensure a stable and predictable food supply. Contemporary Pesticide Use on US Crops Broadly speaking, pesticides are used extensively in US agriculture; but they are used most intensively on fruits and vegetables. Intensity of pesticide use is measured by the amounts applied per acreage— which is much higher for fruits and vegetables than for other crops. For example, vegetables represent less than 2% of the crop acreage but received 17% of the total pesticides used (Lin et al. 1995). Current information on pesticide use is available from USDA surveys on corn, wheat, soybeans, cotton, potatoes, other vegetables, citrus, apples, and other fruits (ERS, 1997). Those crops account for about 80% of both planted crop acreage and sales of agricultural products and can thus be taken as broadly representative of US agriculture (USDA, 1996). Data on pesticide use include amounts of active ingredients applied and shares of acreage treated in toto and by major category (ERS, 1997). In 1996, corn, wheat, cotton, and soybeans together accounted for almost two-thirds of all pesticides applied to those crops (ERS, 1997). Corn herbicides alone accounted for about one-third of the total, and soybean herbicides for about one-eighth. Herbicides and insecticides applied to cotton each accounted for 5–6% of the total, and herbicides applied to wheat accounted for 4%. Other pesticides applied to potatoes, mainly soil fumigants, accounted for over one-eighth of the total. The extent of pesticide use on any given crop can also be captured by the share of acreage treated. By that measure, herbicide use is widespread.
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The Future Role of Pesticides in US Agriculture Herbicides are applied to 92–97% of acreage planted in corn, cotton, soybeans, and citrus; 87% of potato acreage; three-fourths of vegetable acreage; and two-thirds of the acreage planted in apples and other fruit (ERS, 1997; see Table 2-1). Herbicide use is least extensive on winter wheat (56%). In contrast, insecticide use is much less widespread. Among row crops, insecticides are used most extensively in cotton, tobacco, and potatoes. About 30% of corn acreage is treated annually with insecticides, and insecticides are applied to 12% or less of wheat and soybean acreage. Insecticide use is quite prevalent, however, on fruit and vegetable crops. Nearly all apples, citrus, and potatoes and about 90% of other vegetable and other fruit crop acreage are treated with insecticides (ERS, 1997). Fungicide use is similarly highly prevalent on potatoes and fruit crops. Among row crops, only in cotton, tobacco and potato are fungicides used regularly; less than 10% of cotton acreage is typically treated with fungicides. The category “other pesticides ” includes defoliants, growth regulators, and soil fumigants, which are used widely on cotton and potatoes. Potatoes are particularly pesticide intensive—almost 90% of the acreage is treated, with fungicides and soil fumigants as the dominant types of treatment (ERS, 1997). One measure of the intensity of pesticide use is reflected by calculat- TABLE 2-1 Pesticide Use in US Row Crops, Fruits, and Vegetables Proportion of Area Treated, % Crop Herbicide Insecticide Fungicide Row cropsa Maize 97 30 <1 Cotton 92 79 6 Soybean 97 1 <1 Winter wheat 56 12 1 Spring wheat 88 3 <1 Tobacco 75 96 49 Potato 87 83 89 Fruits and vegetablesb Apple 63 98 93 Oranges 97 94 69 Peaches 66 97 97 Grapes 74 67 90 Tomato, fresh 52 94 91 Lettuce, head 60 100 77 aData for 1996. Fungicide amounts do not include seed treatments. Source: Agricultural Chemical Usage 1996 Field Crop Summary USDA September 1997. bData for 1995. Source:Agricultural Statistics 1997, NASS Crop Branch (202) 720-2127.
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The Future Role of Pesticides in US Agriculture ing the amount of active ingredient applied per treated acre. We do that by dividing the total amount of each material used by the number of treated acres, which we estimate by multiplying planted acreage by the fraction of acreage treated. If the fraction of acreage treated is not reported (for instance, for other pesticides used on fruits and vegetables), we use planted acreage instead (Table 2-2). Planted acreage is likely to be larger than treated acreage, because some acreage is not treated, so this procedure can result in an estimate of application rate that is lower than the actual rate. Potatoes are the most pesticide-intensive US crop, because of their heavy use of soil fumigants (Table 2-3). Other vegetables and apples are the next most intensive, receiving a total of about 20 lb of pesticides per treated acre. Citrus (9.6 lb/acre) is also highly pesticide-intensive. (Lin et al., 1995). In contrast, cotton, the most pesticide-intensive of the major crops, received only about 5 lb/acre, about one-fourth to one-half as much as most fruit and vegetable crops. Corn received less than 3 lb/acre, and soybeans and wheat 1lb/acre or less. Only in the case of herbicides are application rates per treated acre comparable between major crops and fruits and vegetables. Corn and cotton receive roughly the same amounts of active ingredients per acre as potatoes, other vegetables, apples, and other fruits (Lin et al., 1995). The total amount of pesticides applied to some major crops (Figure 2-2) increased over the last few years after declining for over a decade. Pesticide use in US agriculture increased steadily from the late 1940s until around 1980, because of the spread of herbicide use on corn and soybeans (ERS 1997, Osteen and Szmedra 1989). Pesticide use on major grain and oilseed crops has fallen consistently since the early 1980s. The adoption of pest-management programs that take advantage of the strengths of new pesticides has contributed to decreasing the amount of pesticides used. For example, a 1992 survey showed that pesticide use in Missouri grain crops had decreased by 6% since 1975 while the total quantity of herbicide and insecticide active ingredients had decreased by 38%; the decrease in herbicide use by Missouri corn and soybean farmers from 1984 to 1992 amounted to 3 million pounds. Those decreases were attributable to the availability of more effective herbicides with lower application rates (NAPIAP, 1997). Similarly, a survey in North Dakota in 1996 showed that many farmers had adopted new cultural and management practices that enhanced the effectiveness of pest management. For example, 75% of the farmers surveyed used field monitoring and crop rotation as part of their integrated program. In addition, several thousand wheat growers were trained in field monitoring, insect identification, and other practices, which resulted in a 75% decrease in the number of acres treated for orange wheat blossom midge.
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The Future Role of Pesticides in US Agriculture Increases in pesticide use over the last 10 years are due for the most part to increases in the use of fungicides and other pesticides, mainly soil fumigants, on potatoes and other vegetables (Padgitt et al., 2000). Increases in pesticide use for a given crop can be the result of additional acreage being planted. For example, pesticide use in cotton has increased due largely to the resurgence of cotton production in the southeastern United States, which is itself attributable to the success of the boll weevil eradication program administered by USDA (Carlson et al., 1989). Those trends suggest that differences in the intensity of pesticide use among crops appear to have become greater over time, mainly because of increases in the use of fungicides, such other pesticides as soil fumigants, and growth regulators. Over the last 2 decades, major crops (for example, grains, oilseeds, and cotton) have become less pesticide-intensive. Insecticide use and herbicide use on potatoes, other vegetables, citrus and apples have remained roughly constant since the early 1980s, whereas the use of fungicides and other pesticides has increased. The use of all types of pesticides on other fruits increased between 1980 and 1990 and has since remained roughly constant. Pesticide-Related Productivity in US Agriculture Gauging the productivity of pesticide use in agriculture is difficult. The aggregate concept “pesticides” has considerable currency in policy discussions but is hard to define precisely. Pesticides in the aggregate encompass a wide variety of chemicals with different properties and effects. As a result, there might be no consistent correlation between crop output and common measures of pesticide use, such as the amount of active ingredient applied or the acreage treated with pesticides. For example, reducing the application of a given compound might lead to reductions in output whereas a switch from a less-toxic to a more-toxic compound that results in the same reduction in weight of active ingredient applied might not. Despite the conceptual difficulties, it is important to have at least a rough sense of how pesticide use in the aggregate influences agricultural productivity. Zilberman et al. (1991) pointed out that the productivity of pesticides —and thus the effects of reducing pesticide use—depends in large measure on substitution possibilities within the agricultural economy. Some substitutes are available only in the short term, when land allocations, cropping patterns, and consumption are fixed. Others are available in the long-term. Substitution between pesticides and other inputs can occur at the farm level or at the regional and national levels. Short-term substitutes for pesticides at the farm level include labor (such as, hand weeding), capital and energy (such as cultivation to control weeds),
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The Future Role of Pesticides in US Agriculture TABLE 2-2 Pounds of Pesticide Active Ingredient per Planted Acre in Major US crops, 1990–1997 1964 1966 1971 1976 1982 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 Crop Herbicides Corn 0.387 0.693 1.362 2.454 2.974 2.932 2.767 2.829 2.758 2.723 2.615 2.661 2.640 Cotton 0.312 0.631 1.587 1.571 1.829 1.710 1.850 1.949 1.756 2.085 1.943 1.893 2.115 Wheat 0.165 0.152 0.216 0.273 0.226 0.215 0.195 0.241 0.254 0.294 0.289 0.403 0.342 Soybeans 0.133 0.279 0.840 1.614 1.880 12.870 1.181 1.139 1.066 1.124 1.088 1.212 1.181 Potatoes 0.989 1.482 1.521 1.254 1.256 1.687 1.777 1.643 1.805 2.048 2.074 1.992 1.762 Other vegetables 0.670 1.005 1.061 1.696 1.984 1.735 1.700 1.658 1.671 1.681 1.909 2.126 2.127 Citrus 0.265 0.397 0.457 3.970 5.556 6.635 7.176 6.208 5.385 4.908 4.455 4.170 3.913 Apples 0.617 0.924 0.389 1.427 1.548 0.815 0.823 0.883 0.868 1.307 1.739 1.735 1.987 Crop Insecticides Corn 0.238 0.356 0.344 0.379 0.368 0.313 0.303 0.264 0.253 0.219 0.211 0.202 0.218 Cotton 5.259 9.271 5.937 5.503 1.692 1.100 0.584 1.156 1.146 1.742 1.772 1.278 1.398 Wheat 0.016 0.016 0.032 0.090 0.033 0.013 0.003 0.017 0.003 0.028 0.013 0.030 0.017 Soybeans 0.158 0.086 0.129 0.157 0.164 0.000 0.007 0.007 0.005 0.003 0.008 0.006 0.011 Potatoes 1.111 1.984 1.934 2.318 2.898 2.566 2.559 2.614 2.816 3.107 2.217 1.717 2.423 Other vegetables 2.532 2.352 2.610 1.775 2.039 1.662 1.627 1.572 1.554 1.545 1.511 1.491 1.503 Citrus 1.825 3.213 2.554 3.843 4.687 4.678 4.706 5.079 5.597 5.215 4.929 4.805 4.783 Apples 23.993 20.185 12.011 8.960 7.898 8.220 8.230 8.609 8.894 8.279 7.609 7.375 7.285 Crop Fungicides Corn 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 Cotton 0.012 0.036 0.018 0.004 0.018 0.080 0.050 0.060 0.052 0.080 0.059 0.034 0.065 Wheat 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.011 0.013 0.002 0.001 0.017 0.010 0.014 0.007 0.003 0.001 Soybeans 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.004 0.001 0.000 0.000 0.001 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 Potatoes 2.463 2.357 2.880 2.962 3.094 2.006 2.274 2.689 3.177 4.449 5.722 4.945 7.930 Other vegetables 1.384 1.179 1.789 1.581 3.056 4.553 4.738 4.946 5.482 6.045 6.469 6.902 6.920 Citrus 6.314 4.559 7.754 4.922 4.312 3.950 4.235 3.837 3.485 3.681 3.791 3.626 3.478 Apples 17.173 20.190 17.919 16.093 13.512 9.778 9.259 9.713 9.978 10.022 10.000 11.497 13.245 Crop Other pesticidesa Corn 0.001 0.008 0.006 0.006 0.002 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 Cotton 0.838 1.373 1.513 1.088 0.824 1.230 1.103 1.193 0.945 1.137 1.163 1.278 1.340 Wheat 0.000 0.001 0.005 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 Soybeans 0.000 0.001 0.001 0.040 0.034 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 Potatoes 0.069 0.006 4.467 6.095 11.658 25.055 18.621 24.122 28.664 35.734 27.969 25.343 30.837 Other vegetables 1.777 0.164 1.084 1.584 2.834 6.100 6.510 6.918 8.062 9.217 10.764 12.341 12.337 Citrus 1.971 0.766 1.072 0.179 0.006 0.016 –a –a –a 0.102 0.200 0.600 1.100 Apples 2.298 2.564 1.363 1.424 1.003 0.104 0.206 0.221 0.217 0.218 0.217 0.217 0.221 Crop All pesticide types Corn 0.626 1.057 1.712 2.839 3.344 3.245 3.070 3.092 3.011 2.943 2.825 2.864 2.858 Cotton 6.421 11.311 9.055 8.166 4.363 4.120 3,580 4.350 3.892 5.036 4.943 4.483 4.925 Wheat 0.181 0.169 0.253 0.374 0.272 0.230 0.197 0.273 0.265 0.338 0.311 0.435 0.362 Soybeans 0.291 0.366 0.970 1.815 2.079 12.870 1.190 1.146 1.071 1.127 1.098 1.216 1.193 Potatoes 4.632 5.829 10.802 12.629 18.906 31.314 25.302 31.068 36.462 45.339 37.983 33.997 42.952 Other vegetables 6.363 4.700 6.544 6.636 9.913 14.050 14.575 15.094 16.799 18.487 20.679 22.860 22.887 Citrus 10.375 8.935 11.837 12.914 14.561 15.279 16.118 15.237 14.467 13.906 13.270 13.146 13.043 Apples 44.081 43.863 31.682 27.904 23.961 18.917 18.724 19.426 20.174 19.826 19.565 21.041 22.737 anone reported or too little reported to make an estimate. Source: Lin et al.,1995; Padgitt et al., 2000.
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Representative terms from entire chapter: