While the Chemical Regulation Directorate (CRD) had not officially confirmed the move at time of going to press, English Apples & Pears chief executive Adrian Barlow said: "As things stand, 29 February is the cut-off point, after which unused stock has to be returned within four weeks, and opened stock has to be disposed of."
He added: "There has been an appeal against this to the CRD, saying it would be more sensible to allow existing stocks to be used up this season. There are a number of new products likely to gain approval this season for use next year that will be able to do the same job."
For the current season, "so much depends on the weather between now and leafand bud-burst", he said. "The remarkably mild winter so far has helped over-wintering of pests, so large infestations are likely, which could be very damaging for the industry."
Agrovista senior fruit agronomist Paul Bennett told the agronomy company's cider growers' seminar earlier this month: "You will have to make some fairly drastic modifications to your spraying programme this season, as Chlorpyrifos is disappearing as of this month. What's surprised us is how quickly it's happened - we have only just learned of it."
Outlining two alternative pest control strategies for growers, he said a "beneficial-friendly" programme would cost around £222 per hectare over the season, compared to £69 for a "broad spectrum" programme, but the latter "would decimate the predatory mites that control spider mites, so you will have the additional cost of controlling those, which would make to overall cost slightly more".
Meanwhile, Aphox - an aphicide and one of the few controls used against woolly aphid - "is also disappearing", Bennett said. "Even a single application will now exceed MRLs (minimum residue levels)."
This is a result of a review of the active substance pirimicarb by the European Food Safety Authority, which if enforced, as is considered likely, would lower the MRL to the limit of determination for all fruits, as well as brassicas, protected lettuce and sweetcorn.
Manufacturer Syngenta says it has been verbally advised by CRD that if enforced, a six-month use-up period "would likely be given", which "would typically enable growers to use up product in their stores".
But it warned: "Should Aphox be applied after any such transition period (or prior if no transition period is given), there is a significant risk that the new MRLs would be exceeded. As a result, despite being permitted by this label, we recommend that growers carefully consider prior to applying Aphox to (these) crops." A new label and MAPP number will permit application of Aphox only to peas and beans, it added.