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Business and Management

Why You Should Be Very Careful When Using Herbicides

Like most homeowners, you probably use weedkiller around the house. Be very careful where you spray it, and how much you use.

Heidi Kratsch, a Utah State University Extension ornamental horticulture specialist, says that applied incorrectly or in too high of a dose, glyphosate products like Roundup can cause a condition called split bark into woody ornamentals and other woody plants.

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When sprayed too close to non targeted plants, the tree or woody plant absorbs the chemical through its roots, the chemical breaks down the bark structure and destroys the winter hardiness of the plant. This causes freeze/thaw damage, which in turn can cause sunscald. The cosmetic damage is bad enough, but for nursery owners, this makes the plant unsalable.

The news is not all bad. It is not the glyphosate itself that causes the damage, but the surfactant, or wetting agent, in some products. The surfactant helps spread the chemical and helps the chemical cling to the targeted plant's leaves so the glyphosate can be absorbed. Read the label when you purchase a weed-killing product.

On the label, look for the words "adjuvant load", this is the surfactant. The following products do not contain a surfactant: Campaign, Fallow Star, Glypro, Landmaster BW, Rodeo, and Roundup Custom, however, proper use is still needed. What is a safe distance to spray glyphosate from a woody plant? 30 feet is the recommended distance.