Herbicide damage?


Well-Known Member
I don't want to over complicate this...but nor do I want to jump to a wrong conclusion. Looked at a property today. Leaves were curled and/or deformed on:
*Callery pear
*Pin oak (I noticed that on the neighbor's as I was driving away)
*and some broadleaf perennials

This was over about a 2 acre area. The wide spread damage. The look of the leaves. The impact to all species of trees he had on the property - across widely varying families. All lead to herbicide damage.

Here is what doesn't fit: He did spray 2, 4-D on the lawn several weeks ago. Didn't do a very good job, the clover looks rather healthy. I noticed it the most on the Mulberry, that the newest leaves looked to be the most impacted while the older leaves (the ones that would have been there when he sprayed) looked better. There is a corn field to the east and a soybean field to the south. If it was drift from there, it would be worse on that side...even the field-facing side of individual trees would be worse. The damage is pretty evenly distributed. (I suspect this would be the case with volatilized herbicide, not drift - so that doesn't rule it out...just raises more questions).

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I don't have anything to add in regard to the damage but it's possible they're not being completely upfront or misremembered when the treatment occurred. Enough times over the years I've had homeowners swear they didn't do something when all the evidence pointed to them clearly doing something they either were or weren't aware of doing that I often take what they say with a grain of salt if things aren't adding up.

One time a cousin of mine sprayed an Azalea hedge with Merit that severely stunted new growth. He swore up and down it was just Merit and must've been the pest control guys or something. Eventually we figured out it was due to poorly/unlabeled tip n pours and he'd inadvertently mixed Simazine instead of Merit. The hedge survived ok but took months to get back growing normally again.
The 2, 4-D should not have created this kind of impact, unless he literally blanketed all of the trees with it. Maybe unless he drenched the entire area at above-label rates and maybe it rained a shit ton. But that would be a whole lot of 2, 4-D. I manage two large Pin Oaks in a very well kept landscape setting. The landscaper accidentally painted the entire area with 2, 4-D. The smaller plants curled and defoliated, but all of the actual trees have showed zero impact besides a slightly defoliated River Birch.

Definitely looks chemical though. How is the grade? I think your instincts are pushing you in the right direction. Production crops on two sides... I would be asking tons of questions. How large are the crop fields? The larger the field, the more chance there is for sloppy application. 2 acres may seem like a large overlap, but maybe not when you consider the treated crops were 20-100 acres. Might be time to make a call into the neighboring properties to see what they are using, because chances are they are using something.


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And what herbicides are they using on the Ag side these days? Broadleaf doesn't make sense unless it's fields of grains or corn?


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Grade? kinda like this: ___________________________________

How big are the fields....well, its really a question of how small are the house lots and wooded areas. Here is a snapshot from Google Earth:


He fully admits to using the 2, 4-D. He is blaming it on himself after I brought that up. But like I said, the healthy clover all over his yard has me wondering. I am thinking it volatilized more than drifted - mostly because of the lack of pattern. He doesn't remember what the weather was like when he treated. Getting the info from a farmer will likely be impossible without the Department of Agriculture ordering them to do so...and I'm not sure it is worth the fight. I think these plants will make it if no further damage is done.

Here is another property I looked at in 2016. A few of my client's trees...then a shot of the neighbor's yard (blackened broadleaf weeds all over). I was more confident in this one! I sent pictures to Dept. of Ag and he kinda said "maybe". I went back to look for the email, but I forgot he called as he didn't want to document anything. I don't blame him for that...doesn't want to end up in court as a witness because some guy sent him a few pictures for a site he never visited. The trees seemed to have recovered here.
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And what herbicides are they using on the Ag side these days? Broadleaf doesn't make sense unless it's fields of grains or corn?
I don't know. I thought they were pretty much all glyphosate. 70% of corn is Roundup ready, and this is field corn - so probably a much higher chance. (popcorn and sweet corn account for much of the corn that is not GMO).

I do know they will do a burndown with 2, 4-D - especially if there was a bad mare's tail problem the previous year as that is quickly becoming glyphosate resistant.

Just wait until they finalize approval of 2, 4-D and Dicamba resistant beans. Yeah...more volatilized herbicides floating around. (I am all for appropriate use of herbicides, but I have been seeing too much off target damage that looks like this in areas not being sprayed at all....if it is not volatilized herbicides, what is it?) I know those 2 volatilize readily because I smell it 6 houses away when Chemlawn is spraying. If I smell it, it is in the air.
How high does the impact reach? I think I was imagining some taller stuff based on the sweetgum, sycamore, and pin oak references. Even the volatilized 2,4-D impact I've seen has been pretty contained to lower foliage but that may just be an experience thing and not based on actual science. Hope you figure it out.


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None of his trees are tall. The river birch is probably 25' and has a little curling all the way up, but it is the least curled of them all. The Pear are probably 15-20' and curled all the way. The Sweet gum tree is only a sapling at 5' tall. The Sycamore is maybe 12-15' tall.