The issue of potential damage to conifers by the turf herbicide Imprelis continues to get a lot of air play in this neck of the woods. One of the interesting things about watching an emerging story such as this is watching some of the sideshows that go on around it and how people spin the issue to match their needs and agenda.
Heritage Lawn Care Company put out flyers in neighborhoods in southeast Michigan with affected trees to promote their service. The flyer incldued the heading “ALERT:DYING PINE AND SPURCE [sic] TREES” The flyer claimed that issues related to Imprelis damage to trees are “99.9% applicator and mixing errors”. Surprisingly, there was no mention of where they got the data for this assertion. But fortunately Heritage stands ready to save the day by using “only organic based fertilizers giving the same or better results”. Again, no mention of how organic fertilizer controls tough weeds like ground ivy and wild violet. Thankfully, “If you prepaid (your lawn care provider) for 2011, and want to switch companies, Hertitage is willing to extend you credit until your current company refunds your money.” Call it a hunch, but I don’t think the folks at Heritage will be receiving an invitation to the local landscaper’s group picnic this year…
Mother Earth News trumpeted the news on Imprelis with the headline “Imprelis: Another Deadly Herbicide, This Time From DuPont” http://www.motherearthnews.com/grow-it/imprelis-killer-compost-zb0z11zrog.aspx First of all, isn’t ‘Deadly Herbicide’ redundant? Every ‘icide’ is designed to kill something so I think they’re supposed to be deadly, at least on their target. While the unintended damage to spruces and pines is certainly unsettling, especially for a newly released product, this group of herbicides has low toxicity to mammals and in many regards is comparatively safe. I don’t consider myself a nozzlehead but I’m sure most GP readers recognize I have little aversion to judicious use of chemicals around Daisy Hill farm. So I was a little taken aback to find my “Fasten your seatbelt folks, this could be a bumpy ride” (GP Blog 6/27/11) quoted in Mother Earth news. My reference was to applicators having to deal with customer complaints and potential litigation – but that’s the nature of putting things into the blogosphere…
On July 14 I received an e-mail advertisement from Growth Products, Inc. breathlessly announcing “An Essential Cure For Trees Damaged By Imprelis Or Sahara Herbicides.” Pretty impressive stuff: We’ve only known about the issue for three weeks and these guys have already found the cure. I had to read on. The cure consists of an “Essential Cocktail” of three Growth Products liquids including Essential Plus (a rich concentration of organic ingredients including humic acid), Micrel Total (“Eight chelated minors to help the tree through stress”) and Companion (a biological fungicide). Alas, once again eye of newt and wing of bat were apparently out of stock. But, “The magic mix can be used as a soil drench and/or a soil injection.” The e-mail also included a link to an article I wrote for our extension news that included a photo of some maple trees that had largely recovered from herbicide injury by Sahara in 2009. I also documented the case here on the GP blog I wasn’t aware, but apparently a landscaper treated the trees with some of these concoctions. No word in the e-mail from Growth Products on how the untreated control trees did.