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Grapes with cupped and small leaves.

A recent farm visit related to identifying the damage done to trees, shrubs and fruit trees by spray drift reminded me that the months of May and June usually bring the greatest potential for this type of damage from weed killers. Farmers, agriculture chemical dealers and lawn care companies normally have a “narrow window” of time to spray due to weather conditions. For farmers this includes before, and after planting of corn and soybeans to control weeds.

This narrow window is controlled by a farmer’s schedule but mainly by weather with the greatest problem being wind on the day of spraying among others. Temperature can also impact spray drift onto non-target plants when air temperatures get above 85 degrees F. through volatilization. The heat from the soil can cause spray materials to move due to the difference in air temperatures. Homeowners can also face spray damage when lawns are sprayed this time of year for weeds and damage is done to nearby flowers, lawns, shrubs and trees. Homeowners should always ask for a copy of a spray ticket to be left after each application to your property.

If you have plants which have been affected by weed killing sprays here are some suggestions. If you are the person with damaged plants take dated pictures of the plants affected. Make notes as necessary to further document when the damage was first noticed and other observations. Secondly contact the farmer, or company doing the spraying to communicate your concerns. You can ask the spray company to give you a copy of the spray ticket which contains information on products applied, day of application, weather and rates of application etc. In most cases the company or farmer will arrange to meet with you to see the damage, make notes, take their pictures and start the process of reconciling with you if in fact the spray caused the problem. I use the word “if” because I have seen plants with curling or twisted leaves caused by a late frost for example.

As a last resort anyone with plant damage they think was caused by spray damage can contact the Ohio Dept. of Agriculture (ODA) for an on site determination of damage. This office licenses all pesticide applicators and investigates pesticide application problems including spray drift problems when warranted. Their phone number is 1-614-728-6987 which is the Pesticide and Fertilizer Regulation Section. You can also send an email to: pesticides@agri.ohio.gov . In most cases this last step is not necessary.

Keep in mind spray drift can also be caused by other factors like spray pressure, spray droplet size, speed of spraying, and relative humidity among others.

In many cases I have been involved with the plants often grow out of the problem but in some cases the plants have to be replaced or the owner paid for the damage. In no case do I recommend eating fruit or vegetables from plants affected by pesticide sprays. Always follow label instructions.

Farm Forum Picnic /Scholarship Fund Raiser

Greene Co. Farm Forum is continuing to raise money for scholarships given to deserving students pursuing an education in agriculture. This year’s June 27 picnic/Scholarship Fund Raiser “Dinner on the Farm” event starts at 6 p.m. and will be held at the newly renovated Orchard Lane Banquet Center located at 2185 S.R. 235, Xenia. The evening includes a great meal from Little Miami Valley River Catering and music by the band “Dumbfounded”. I think you will be impressed by the view looking south towards Xenia from the Banquet Center. Tickets are $20 for those age 11 and older and $4.50 for anyone 10 and younger. For tickets contact Jim Byrd at 429-1805, Jerry Mahan 372-5711 or Diana Johnson at 372-2000 by June 20.You may also make a donation by contacting one of the individuals listed above.

Farm Forum has donated awarded $6000 in the last two years to scholarship recipients. Our 2015 recipients include Alexandra Stickle who plans to attend the University of Findlay majoring in animal science/pre vet.; Brooke Anderson who will be attending The Ohio State Univ. with a major in animal science and McKenzie Brown who is attending Wilmington College majoring in agronomy.

With June comes:

June is the time of year that one of our most prolific poisonous weeds makes its appearance known through sight and smell –poison hemlock. Poison Hemlock (scientific name is Conium maculatum L.) is in full bloom as I write this column in mid- June. Once you see it and smell the flower one can drive down many roads and know it is present by the smell alone. It has a white flower and can grow to a height of 6-8 feet or more. The stalk has characteristic purple blotches; is hollow between the nodes and the leaves have a feathery appearance.

The plant resembles Wild Carrot or Queen Ann’s Lace on steroids. This weed can cause death in animals if they eat enough of it. Luckily it is usually the last plant eaten after other plants have dried up. Once eaten by the animal poison hemlock can cause respiratory failure. For a better picture of this weed log on to: http://ohioline.osu.edu/b866/b866_6.html. This website takes you to the OSU Ext.bulletin titled “Noxious Weeds of Ohio”.

Poison Hemlock is a biennial weed best controlled in the spring and fall. Fall treatments are more effective when they contain glyphosate and 2,4-D. Control of poison hemlock needs to occur while the plant is in the vegetative rosette state, so early spring is a good time to control second year plants and fall a good time to control first year plants. Recommended herbicides include 2-4-D, dicamba (Banvel/Clarity), Crossbow (2-4-D plus triclopyr), Remedy Ultra (triclopyr) and glyphosate.

Since all of these products are designed to kill broadleaf weeds you may have damage to pasture plants like clover, or alfalfa. The Remedy Ultra, and Crossbow are the most expensive of these products but according to the 2014 Ohio and Indiana Weed Control Guide BL. 789 they do the best job of controlling this weed. Always follow label instructions on all weed killers. Sadly at this time of year when the plant is flowering and in its second year of growth the only control measure is to mow it. The plant will die after flowering but can spread hundreds of seeds for the next generation.

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