AGENT: Be careful with chemicals, your parents depend on them | Local News
Extension Officer Carmen Ketron Clemson
As the weather gets warmer, weeds begin to grow, fungus begins to appear, and bugs are everywhere; people are likely to want to reach for the chemicals to do something about it. But unfortunately, many people’s hard work is wasted by misusing pesticides and destroying their crops and grass due to the wrong application of chemicals.
Pesticides can include any herbicide, insecticide, fungicide; anything ending in -icide is a type of targeted chemical aimed at eliminating or reducing that specific target pest. It is important to remember that a herbicide kills plant pests and an insecticide kills an insect pest.
It’s even more important to remember that no matter what you see on the internet, what your neighbor tells you, or your best guess, the label on these chemicals is the law and must be obeyed. So don’t just do what your neighbor advises you to do; you must read the instructions on the label. All essential information can be found on this chemical label.
Chemical tags are certainly not a James Patterson bestseller. They’re long, have a super small font, and lots of technical words that can get confusing. But the label is the law, which will tell you how much you must legally apply and the safety precautions you should take when using them. Don’t think this only applies to commercial grade chemicals. I’ve seen people suffer severe rashes, chemical burns, and even temporary blindness because they didn’t wear the necessary personal protective equipment when applying “natural” or “organic” chemicals. Products containing neem oil, sulfur and crushed stone formulations can be dangerous if not used appropriately.
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Additionally, this label will tell you which plants you can and cannot spray around or near them. For example, some weed killer chemicals will work well on St. Augustine grass but will burn the mess of centipede grass. Read the fine print. At this time of year, you will find that most of your herbicides should not be sprayed above 85 degrees Fahrenheit, as they can also damage desired grass and weeds at this temperature.
Why is this important? Because you are ultimately responsible for what happens if you misapply your chemicals. This includes chemicals drifting into the neighbor’s yard. Nothing is worse than having that conversation with your neighbor about why the weed killer you sprayed also killed his tomato plants.
Make sure anyone you pay to spray is also in compliance. Any company paid to apply chemicals to someone’s farm or yard absolutely must have a commercial applicator’s license. These guys know what they are doing. They participated in extensive testing on the proper and safe application of chemicals. They also carry insurance to protect against any accidental damage. You will know if they are licensed pesticide applicators by the yellow sticker on their truck or by looking them up on the South Carolina Department of Pesticide Regulation website.
The bottom line is that the label is the law and if you have any questions about the proper application of your chemicals, contact Clemson Extension for assistance.
Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to people of all ages regardless of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation , gender identity, marital or family status and is an equal opportunity employer.