Boy, this sounds familiar. A new chemical that's claimed to safely kill dandelions and other turfgrass weeds turns out to be not safe at all. This time the unintended consequence is killing nearby trees.
We heard from Mother Earth News about it, asking us to spread the word that:
- Conifer trees near lawns treated with Imprelis, especially Norway spruce and white pines, have shown signs of damage after Imprelis was used. Signs include brown and curled growth.
- Damage has been reported in Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas, Indiana, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Delaware.
- DuPont recently sent a letter asking applicators to spray well away from the root zone of trees and shrubs and to make sure no drift or runoff could impact those ornamentals.
- If you suspect that your trees or garden plants have damage from Imperis, get them tested through your local Extension service. They may also have tips to minimize damage.
We also heard from a law firm representing one homeowner and an Indiana golf course looking to gather more plaintiffs. From their website:
Introduced to the market in late 2010, DuPont claims Imprelis is "effective against a very wide spectrum of important turfgrass weeds." Many landscapers and professional gardeners switched to Imprelis to control weeds in turf such as dandelions because Imprelis was claimed to be safer for the environment than predecessors such as 2,4-D.
Substantial tree damage has been reported throughout the Midwest, in East Coast states, and as far south as Georgia.
Killer Compost, Too!
The killing of nearby trees is new. What's not new is the fact that "killer compost" that can ruin gardens or farmland for years results when clippings from Imprelis-sprayed lawns or fields are composted.
DuPont's response to that problem has been to put a warning about it on their label – their 9-page label. Which they know damn well most people don't read.
So spread the word, lawyer-up if you think you may have damaged trees, and next time someone tells you a new pesticide of any type is "safer", be wary.
Photo of Imprelis-damaged spruce by Purdue University Extension.