CHEMICAL UPDATE: Non-Selective Chemicals

Selective herbicides seemingly provide the ultimate in pest control: the ability to eliminate weeds without harming desirable turf and ornamentals. However, sometimes you need the opposite — a product that completely eliminates vegetation for renovations, vegetation management or simple spot spraying. For these situations, you need a non-selective chemical.

Non-selective herbicides work in different ways. Some are soil-applied and enter plants through root uptake, providing immediate, as well as soil-residual, control. Others are foliar-applied and eliminate existing vegetation, but with little or no residual. A few have both types of activity. All have their place, depending on your specific needs.

Systemic herbicides are effective at killing woody and perennial plants. By contrast, contacts tend to work very quickly, earning them the nickname of “burndown” herbicides, but may not be the best choice for controlling perennial weeds. Foliar-applied products with little or no soil residual, whether systemic or contact, are by far the most widely used non-selectives in grounds care. These are the chemicals used for spot spraying or general “clean-up” weed control.

Fumigants are valuable tools for treating soil prior to planting and may control nematodes, insects and diseases, in addition to weeds. Traditionally, methyl bromide has been one of the mainstay soil fumigants. However, the Montreal Protocol, an international treaty for reducing ozone-depleting chemicals, will eliminate nearly all uses of methyl bromide before 2005. Fortunately, other chemicals are still available for pre-plant fumigation.

Use this Update for preliminary planning only. Remember that you must follow all label instructions any time you apply a pesticide. Non-selective pesticides are valuable tools, but must be used with care. After all, their defining characteristic is their broad spectrum of activity, so misapplications carry potentially great risks. Their safe use depends on proper application. Properly used, however, non-selectives can be one of the most valuable tools that landscape professionals possess.

Agrisel USA 678-441-0030;
Amvac 888-GO-AMVAC;
Aventis 800-843-1702;
BASF 800-545-9525;
Dow AgroSciences 800-258-3033;
DuPont 800-441-7515;
Hendrix & Dail 252-758-4263
LESCO 800-321-5325;
Micro Flo 800-451-8461;
Monsanto 800-332-3111;
Monterey Chemical 559-449-2100;
Opti-Gro 800-527-9919;
PBI/Gordon 800-821-7925;;
Riverdale 800-345-3330;
Syngenta 800-334-9481;
UCB Chemical 800-426-3820;
Wilbur-Ellis 559-442-1220;

Active ingredient Soil fumigant Soil residual/root uptake Foliar uptake Burndown Brands (suppliers)1
Ammoniated salt of fatty acids X Quick Fire (Monterey)
Bromacil X X Acti-Cil, Opti-Kill (Opti-Gro)
Hyvar (DuPont)
Bromacil + diuron X X Krovar (DuPont)
Bromacil + 2,4-D X X X Top Down (Opti-Gro)5
Cacodylic acid X Montar, Weed Ender (Monterey)
Dazomet X Basamid (BASF4)
1,3 Dichloropropene X Curfew (Dow AgroSciences)4
Diquat dibromide X Reward (Syngenta)
Aquatrim II (Opti-Gro)
Glufosinate-ammonium2 X X Finale, Derringer (Aventis)
Glyphosate X Clear-Out 41 Pro Plus (Agrisel USA)
GlyphoMate 41 (PBI/Gordon)
Gly-Flo (Micro Flo)
Prosecutor, Prosecutor Pro, Prosecutor + Tracker (LESCO)
Razor (Riverdale)
Roundup Pro & Pro Dry (Monsanto)
Trailblazer (Opti-Gro)
Imazapyr X X Arsenal (BASF)
Imazapyr + diuron X X Sahara (BASF)
Metam sodium X Metam CLR (UCB)
Vapam HL, Vapam (Amvac)
Soil Prep (Wilbur-Ellis)
Methyl bromide3 X MB 98, MBC (Hendrix & Dail)
Pelargonic acid X Quik (Monterey)
Scythe (Dow AgroSciences)
Prometon X Pramitol (Syngenta)
Spot (Monterey)
Prometon + 2,4-D X X X Vegemec (PBI/Gordon)
Tebuthiuron X Spike (Dow AgroSciences)
1Neither the publisher nor author implies endorsement by this listing, nor does omission imply criticism. So-called “brush control” products are considered selective (for broadleaf plants) and are not included here. Always read and follow label instructions for specific application and safety instructions.
2Glufosinate-ammonium is listed as a burndown. However, it also has limited systemic activity. So it is quicker-acting than some systemics, with better control of woody and perennial weeds than contacts.
3Methyl bromide is still available but currently is being phased out, with nearly all uses to be discontinued by 2005.
4Only available in Florida under experimental-use permit.
5Available as an aerosol only.

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