A couple of weeks ago I attended a drift control workshop taught by Doug Doohan, OSU Extension Fruit and Vegetable Weed Management specialist and Roger Downer, OSU/OARDC Research Associate with a specialty in pesticide application technology. The purpose of the workshop was to teach participants about mechanisms and causes of drift along with teaching symptoms of herbicide drift damage to sensitive plants. Specifically the workshop was held to talk about drift management within the context of working with the new 2,4-D and dicamba resistant soybean technologies that will become available to agronomic crop growers. These technologies when available and when used will allow growers to use specially formulated 2,4-D and dicamba products on emerged soybean plants during the growing season to control weeds. This technology could offer big benefits in terms of some very costly and problematic weeds in soybean production, namely marestail, water hemp and palmer amaranth.
A concern is that many vegetable crops and fruit crops (especially grapes) are very sensitive to being damaged by these products. How sensitive? According to the workshop instructors, horticultural crops such as tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, leafy greens and fruits such as grapes can be 75 to 100 times more sensitive to 2,4-D and dicamba than to glyphosate products. Participants in this workshop were shown numerous examples of horticultural crops in a greenhouse that had been exposed to 1/100th and 1/300th of label rates of either 2,4-D or dicamba and these plants had visible damage symptoms.
Should a drift incident occur and cause damage to a sensitive vegetable or fruit crop it is important for agronomic crop growers to realize that these vegetable and fruit crops generally have high dollar values that could result in liability checks being written for ten to fifty thousand dollars per acre. The companies that have developed this technology will have stringent label guidelines regarding how the products can be used including specifications for wind direction, distance to sensitive crops, buffer areas, nozzle types and spray pressure. Obviously nobody wants a drift incident to occur that will result in damage and liability claims. Knowledge of where sensitive crops are located could be helpful in planning spray applications and taking precautions with buffer strips.
The Ohio Sensitive Crop Registry was set up by the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) to help facilitate communication between growers of sensitive crops, beekeepers and agronomic row crop growers and to serve as a tool that may help prevent pesticide drift incidents. It allows beekeepers and commercial vegetable and fruit growers to register the location of their apiaries and fields. It is not a site for home gardeners and non-commercial growers to register. The registry has:
- Information that is not available to the general public, so users must register before entering the site.
- Access by only licensed, pesticide applicators to view information about apiaries and sensitive crops.
- Growers and apiarists participating who have at least half an acre of an individual crop (or equivalent greenhouse space).
- A verification process for registered users and inputted data.
I encourage commercial fruit and vegetable growers to use the registry. The system will work best if significant numbers of growers register the location of their crops and if pesticide applicators use that information to plan pesticide applications. To participate in the registry, sign up for a user account with the Ohio Department of Agriculture at: www.agri.ohio.gov/scr. Questions about the sensitive crop registry can be directed to the ODA at: SensitiveCropRegistry@agri.ohio.gov or by phone at: 614-728-6386.