Pesticide use in California has dropped for the second consecutive year, according to the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR). Approximately 172 million pounds of pesticides were applied statewide in 2007, a decrease of nearly 16 million pounds, or 8.4 percent, from 2006.

Production agricultural use dropped by more than 11 million pounds, as did almost every other category. Reports are mandatory for agricultural and pest control business applications, while most home, industrial, and institutional uses are exempt.

DPR analysts noted that dry spring weather conditions in 2007 appear to have been a factor in reducing disease and weed levels and thus the need for pesticides compared with 2006, according to a DPR analysis of major crop applications prepared as part of the summary use data. Insect populations were generally lower in 2007 as well.

In addition to weather conditions, analysts attributed the drop in pesticide use to farmers continuing to do a better job of minimizing pesticide use when possible and shifting to newer products that are less toxic to people and the environment.

No rankings changed from 2006 to 2007 among the top five counties in order of most pesticide pounds applied. Fresno was first, followed by Kern, Tulare, San Joaquin and Madera.