Tag, you're it.

It seems the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has tagged the newest "kid" to be "it"--the entire group of organophosphate insecticides. EPA is considering canceling all tolerances for organophosphates. This group of insecticides includes many tried and true pest-control products, such as acephate (Orthene), chlorpyrifos (Dursban), diazinon (Diazinon), ethion (Ethion), ethoprop (Mocap), fenamiphos (Nemacur), fonofos (Crusade), isophenfos (Oftanol), malathion (Malathion) and trichlorfon (Dylox). (For a complete list, see "Turfgrass Chemical Update: Insecticides," February 1998 Grounds Maintenance.) This represents a new tactic that EPA has adopted to regulate chemical groups rather than individual active ingredients. When Congress enacted the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA), EPA set the stage for shifting gears from individual products to groups of products. It looks as though carbamate insecticides may be next. This issue focuses on pest control.

Pesticides play a major role in your battle against weeds, diseases and insects. Sometimes you may be tempted to tank-mix products in an effort to control a broader array of pests with one efficient application. With certain combinations of products, you may find that your tank-mix works much better than if you used each product alone. While tank-mixing generally doesn't pose any problems, you sometimes may encounter reduced efficacy, compatibility problems and even phytotoxicity. Because of these problems, it is important that you exercise caution when tank-mixing. Find out what Drs. Beverly Sparks, University of Georgia, and Bert McCarty, Clemson University, have to say about pesticide interactions (page 14).

Once you've decided on the tank-mix that works for you, your next step is to spray it. You want to make sure you apply the spray uniformly to the turf to avoid excessive overlapping or skips. After all, you don't want streaks in your turf from this type of misapplication. By adding spray-pattern indicator dyes to your tank mix, you will be able to detect whether you are getting a uniform application of the sprayed material. University of Nebraska faculty John Fech, extension educator, and Dr. Roch Gaussoin, extension turf specialist, point out the benefits of using colorants in "See where you spray" (page 64).

We generally think of larger vehicle-mounted spray tanks when discussing spraying, but the same principles of tank-mixing and spray-pattern indication apply to smaller sprayers, such as backpack sprayers. These units are particularly handy for spot-spraying turf and for pest control in ornamentals. Dr. Barry Troutman, technical manager for Environmental Care/U.S. Lawns, provides tips on the proper use of backpack sprayers in "Equipment Options: Backpack sprayers" (page 84). Accompanying this article are descriptions of the various backpack sprayers on the market today.

Pesticides are just one tool you have to combat pests on your grounds. Prevention plays a big role too. For instance, you can minimize the spread of disease by following good sanitation practices when dealing with diseased plant materials. Removing and disposing of diseased plant parts as well as sterilizing pruners between cuts are just a few steps you can take to keep diseases in check. Oklahoma State University Extension Pathologist Betsy Hudgins writes on controlling disease with sanitation (page 72).

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