As USU Extension Agents, we have many different roles and responsibilities that we love, and some that we enjoy less. One unfortunate role that we have to perform on occasion is to tell crop/landscape owners that their plants are dying due to “friendly fire” or the improper use of a pesticide.
Pesticides include herbicides, insecticides, fungicides or anything meant to get rid of nuisances. Pesticides play a definite and important role in both crop production and landscape management, but it is crucial that the user of these products realizes that the moment they purchase a pesticide they become liable for the results and impacts of their use.
The cases involving non-target herbicide damage to plants have significantly increased in the Cache County Extension Office this summer. Many times when bugs, weeds, or any pest encroaches on our crops or gardens, we immediately look for a spray or chemical to destroy these pests. While these sprays and chemicals have an important role in managing pests, it should be remembered that there are other means to control pests as well.
In Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, there are four areas of control: Biological cultural, mechanical and physical; and chemical controls. By using different methods of control, IPM can destroy pests through many different tools. Many of you will favor one type of control over others and will have to decide what works best for your management goals. In Cache Valley, sprays are very popular methods. As a part of IPM, here are a few tips to avoid herbicide/pesticide damage with sprays.
• Read the label! It is the law. If there are any adverse environmental results, they will be printed on the label.
• Never spray an insecticide during bloom of ornamental plants. Bees visit flowers and can pick up the pesticide and pass it to their brood back at the hive
• Do not spray broad leaf lawn chemicals (such as 2,4-D) when temperatures are going to be above 85 degrees Fahrenheit. This is probably the most commonly encountered problem during hot summer months. Broadleaf herbicides volatilize (change from a liquid to a vapor) and can drift miles with even a slight breeze. The vapors can then settle on non-targeted trees, shrubs, flowers and even vegetables. The main symptom associated with broadleaf herbicide damage is called Epinasty. Epinasty is a term that describes twisted/contorted growth, prominent veins and leaves that resemble thick alligator skin.
• Do not spray products containing Dicamba around the root zone of ornamental trees and shrubs. These products can cause similar damage to woody plants as 2,4-D but symptoms persist for months
• Do not spray horticultural oils or products if temperatures are going to be above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. These oil products can act like a magnifying glass and burn foliage in the heat.
• Do not mix horticultural oils with sulfur as they cause phytotoxic damage (burn) on leaves.
After the use of pesticides, it is important that any leftover pesticides are managed properly. If you are a homeowner, you can dispose of your yard chemicals (fertilizers, pesticides, insecticides) at the landfill, located at 200 N. S. 1400 West, Logan) in the hazardous waste section. The landfill is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For farmers and businesses that use pesticides, the landfill hazardous drop off is not available for them. However, the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food is hosting a free pesticide disposal for farmers and businesses using pesticides. The disposal will take place on Oct. 9, at a UDOT facility. Pre-registration will be requested for this event. More information will be given later about the pesticide disposal. If you have any question about these events, or want more information about pesticides please give us a call at the Cache County Extension Office.