Tuesday, March 10, 2009

What Was The Marketing Department Thinking?

Weekly Word on Weeds from Dr. Joe Neal.
"I was just looking through a catalogue from one of the major suppliers to our industries and was surprised by what I found in the herbicide section – “Image” herbicide -- but not exactly the Image herbicide we know.

OK, first a bit of background. If you manage warm season turf you are probably familiar with this herbicide – it contains the active ingredient “imazaquin”. Imazaquin is a postemergence herbicide with foliar and root absorption, used to control nutsedge, dollar weed (penny wort) and several other hard to kill weeds in warm season turf and around some established woody plants. I generally do not recommend this herbicide for use in landscape beds because of the risk of damage to many species of woody and herbaceous ornamentals from root uptake.

So, what surprised me enough to make this a topic for my weekly word on weeds? There were three “Image” herbicides, each with a different active ingredient but the same Trade Name. One contained MSMA, a postemergence herbicide for crabgrass and nutsedge control in warm season and cool-season turf. The second “Image” contained atrazine, a preemergence herbicide for broadleaf weed control in warm season turf but not cool-season turf. The third “Image” is the one we are familiar with containing imazaquin.

So, what does that have to do with weed control in ornamentals you might wonder (since I don't recommend the use of any of these in landscape beds anyway). This underscores the need for you, the user, to read the label.

Here is another example. Have you used the herbicide Vantage for over the top applications in ornamentals for crabgrass control in the past? If so, you will be surprised to learn that Vantage is now another name for glyphosate – NOT sethoxydim. The new name for sethoxydim in ornamentals is “Segment”. But, there is still Vantage = sethoxydim in warehouses and on the shelves.

Why does this sort of thing happen? Fortunately this is name changing is not common in the ornamentals market, but it does happen. Marketing departments often like to capitalize on brand name recognition, sometimes (in my opinion) casting common sense to the wind. So, before you buy, read the label and list of ingredients. Make sure you are purchasing the active ingredient you actually want. "

For more information contact your local Cooperative Extension Center and ask for the Commercial Horticulture Agent.