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When and How to Use Chemical Herbicides

Before spraying, determine which herbicide (natural or synthetic) is right for your garden. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you end up taking out your biggest weed control weapon chemicals. Think carefully before using chemical herbicides in your environment and make sure they are part of an integrated pest management approach that includes.

Identify specific problem plants

Understand the life cycle of plants. Is it annual or perennial? Does it spread by seeds, roots, or both? If I sow a seed, when will it sprout?

 If possible, use growing conditions or mechanical control measures to suppress weeds first. Recognize when and how weed infestations can cause devastating damage to natural habitats, crops or structures.

Once you determine that an herbicide is the right step for managing your weed problem, you can evaluate your options and choose the right product for your situation.
First, let’s look at the terminology. Herbicides inhibit the germination of plant seeds and are used as pre-emergence or post-emergence herbicides. That is, it acts on actively growing plants. Some are non-selective. That is, they affect all plants they come into contact with, while others selectively control only certain plants.

Contact herbicides only affect the plant tissue to which they are applied, whereas systemic herbicides are absorbed into the entire plant and root system. Chemical controls may be natural or synthetic. Ideally, all herbicides should be applied by a licensed pesticide applicator.


Natural Herbicide
The active ingredients in natural herbicides come from plants or minerals. These products are subject to government regulations for personal and environmental safety. Read and follow all product labels carefully.

Corn gluten meal. The protein portion of corn kernels is a selective, pre-emergence herbicide most commonly used in lawns to control annual weeds such as oxalis, purslane and spurge. It also has a nitrogen content of about 10%, which helps keep your lawn healthy. Corn gluten meal is most effective when applied twice a year. Apply before seeds sprout and form roots. A drying period is required even after germination. Learn more about when to apply corn gluten meal here

Vinegar. This is a non-selective, post-emergence contact herbicide against annual weeds. Spray weed leaves with a horticultural vinegar solution containing less than 20% acetic acid. The acid acts as a contact desiccant, burning only the leaves but not the roots, and is most effective when applied to annual weeds in the summer heat.

Soap. Horticultural soap derived from fatty acids is a non-selective, post-emergence contact herbicide. When sprayed on the leaves of weeds, it suffocates the leaves and hinders the growth of the plants. Horticultural soap is most effective on young, actively growing annual weeds.

Steel. The most recent children’s version uses 1.5% iron chelate solution as the active ingredient. As a selective, systemic, post-emergence herbicide, iron doses are toxic to several common broadleaf weeds but have no detrimental effects on turfgrass.
Synthetic herbicide
Synthetic herbicides contain artificial ingredients that are subject to government regulations for personal and environmental safety.
Remember: Read and follow product labels carefully.
Glysophate and ammonium glufosinate. These non-selective, systemic herbicides can beeffective against noxious perennial weeds such as wildflowers, myrtle spurge, and quack grass.Studies have shown that very specific application methods, such as time of year, stage of the plant’slife cycle, and application method, are important to ensure the most efficient and effective use ofthis herbicide.
2,4-D and Triclopyr. All of these compounds are selective, systemic, post-emergent herbicidesuseful for controlling many annual and perennial broadleaf weeds, such as chinchilla, kochia,Canada thistle, and orange hawkweed. Effective against weeds around lawns and conifers. Yourlocal cooperative extension office can do more research on how to identify and control weeds inyour area.

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