Pesticide use is always a controversial issue. Some home gardeners take a nuke ‘em” approach while others try for 100 percent natural control.
We can all agree that if using a pesticide, use it correctly and with care and caution, says Jerry Goodspeed, Utah State University Extension horticulturist. The safe and proper use of a pesticide can prevent a lot of trouble. Most concerns and problems arise when pesticides are used improperly.
“One common complaint about pesticides is the label,” he says. “It has a lot of small print on it, and a few big words that can be difficult to read and understand. The label contains information that must be read in order to use the chemical safely. It is amazing how often pesticides are used without a knowledge of what the chemical is or does.
“I remember a gentleman who wanted to surprise his wife on her birthday by getting rid of all the weeds in the flower beds. He went to the nursery and found a product with a label that said, ‘controls weeds for up to five years.’ He figured this was just the ticket for a wonderful surprise. After applying the product to the flower beds, he decided to read the label so he would know how to surprise his wife. Unfortunately, as he read, he discovered to his surprise, it was actually a soil sterilant. It would not only kill the weeds, but wipe out the trees, shrubs and perennials.”
Pesticide safety begins and ends with the label, Goodspeed emphasizes. Be certain that the pest you want to destroy and the plant or area you plan to treat are listed on the label. If in doubt, ask a certified nurseryman in the nursery or garden center for help. Don’t guess.
What do you tell someone who has just sprayed their apple tree with a product not registered or labeled for use on an apple tree?
“I tell them what the law says. If apples are not on the label, you cannot harvest them,” he says. “This is not a popular response, and I’ve had a few people upset with me. Sometimes they act as if I had been the one to spray the tree and cause the problem. The label acts as the law concerning pesticide usage. Not following the instructions is actually breaking the law.”
Goodspeed offers these additional tips on safe use of pesticides:
For more information, contact your local USU County Extension office.
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Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Acts of May 9 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Robert L. Gilliland, Vice-President and Director, Cooperative Extension Service, Utah State University, Logan, Utah. (EP/08-2000/DF)