Imidan odor

appleseed70August 18, 2014

I jusrt received a 5 lb. order of Imidan 70 WP. I had heard that it smelled pretty bad and was expecting something like Malathion odor. Good grief...this stuff is in the dissolvable plastic packets, inside the foil/mylar outer packaging and that is inside a sealed Ziploc bag which is in a cardboard box. Nothing has been opened and yet I can smell it through all that sealed packaging.
Question long after spraying does this odor persist? Obviously it's going to be really bad when mixed and sprayed. Does the odor die down to something tolerable after a day or so?

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alan haigh

Once it dries it holds the older less than malathion, I think. I've never noticed its smell on trees sprayed even a day before but Malathion I can smell for several days.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 7:35PM
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That's good to hear. This 5lb. bag will last me a long, long time. I don't really mind the Malathion odor, but I'm thinking this stuff is going to be worse when spraying and it smells different (at least in the packaging) than Malathion.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 9:05PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

I don't spray any organophospates other than Lorsban on the trunks for borers.

It stinks to high heaven.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 7:35PM
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alan haigh

I love the smell of Imidan in the morning. It smells like victory.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 8:14PM
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Olpea...I've read (recently) a lot of your old posts where you talked intelligently and at great length about different organophosphates including a ton on Imidan. Now you are saying you don't use anything other than Lorsban for borer protection.
I'm just curious about your perceived interest and accumulated knowledge on the subject coupled to the fact you don't use them. I remember reading (I think) that you were spraying Mustang Max. Is that what you are still doing? Isn't it far more expensive? Promote mite outbreaks? Is it as effective?
Is there some good reason that I'm not aware of that I shouldn't be spraying it? I hope not...I got $90 tied up in it.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 2:20AM
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Oh final somewhat goofy question for Olpea or Harvestman or whoever. How does one pronounce Imidan?

Im - a - Dan (first syllable like the word him without the H)

I'm - a - Don

e - my - den

em - my - den

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 2:28AM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)


I've always heard Imidan pronounced the first way. Short I - then mmm - then a short "a" - then dan.

My general opinion is that virtually all pesticides available for legal use in the U.S are very safe.

This is based on studies of pesticide applicators who have sprayed older generation pesticides most of their lives and still seem to outlive (or have less cancer) than folks who were never bathed in pesticides routinely.

There is a sort of mini fruit belt in Missouri (right along the MO river) where the temps are moderated from the river. I've talked to an old orchardist there along the river. He claimed all his old orchard friends lived into their 90s, and sprayed some of the worst stuff available for years. I'm guessing these would be primarily organophosphates,which were the mainstay of spray programs for that generation. These are cholinesterase inhibitors like carbimates (i.e. Sevin) which can be hard on the body.

Still perception is reality and organophosphates have a bad rep. nowdays. Supposedly there may be some correlation to ADD and children, and the EPA is cracking down on organophosphates and seems to be determined to phase them out.

I'm going along with the popular trend, so I don't use them on fruit, even though I think they are perfectly safe.

SWD may change that. Malathion is a popular tool to protect against SWD, but so far I haven't had to use it. If I can't protect fruit without Malathion, then I'll start using it. Danitol is also very effective against SWD. I have some on hand, but haven't used it yet. Soft compounds like Delegate have worked to protect fruit from SWD this season. I prefer soft compounds if they will perform, even if they are much more expensive.

I don't seem to need to use Imidan. Imidan is strong on PC, but weak on stink bugs, which is a real problem here. Pyrethroids like Mustang Max do a better job on stink bugs, but are harder on beneficials.

Pyrethroids in general are more inert for human beings but harder on beneficials. So it goes.

All that said, I would not be afraid to use organophosphates at all for fruit for my own use, but I'm trying to be sort of cutting edge on the safety for my customers - as much as is possible for this area, so currently I don't spray any organophosphates on the fruit.

This post was edited by olpea on Sat, Aug 23, 14 at 8:36

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 5:15PM
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alan haigh

Here is the study that I paid to get a copy of and that began the original discussion here about the safety of synthetic pesticides. Whole Foods does not want you to read this.

Mortality among Participants in the Agricultural Health Study

• Aaron Blair, PhD
• Dale P. Sandler, PhD
• Robert Tarone, PhD
• Jay Lubin, PhD
• Kent Thomas, BSPH
• Jane A. Hoppin, ScD
• Claudine Samanic, MSPH
• Joseph Coble, ScD
• Freya Kamel, PhD
• Charles Knott, MPA
• Mustafa Dosemeci, PhD
• Shelia Hoar Zahm, ScD
• Charles F. Lynch, MD, PhD
• Nathaniel Rothman, MD
• Michael C.R. Alavanja, DrPH
From the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, NIH, DHHS, Bethesda, MD (A.B., R.T., J.L., C.S., J.C., M.D., S.H.Z., N.R., M.C.R.A.); Epidemiology Branch, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH, DHHS, Research Triangle Park, NC (D.P.S., J.A.H., F.K.); US Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, NC (K.T.); Battelle, Durham, NC (C.K.); and Department of Epidemiology, University of Iowa College of Public Health, Iowa City, IA (C.F.L.)
Received 20 February 2004; accepted 18 August 2004. published online 02 November 2004.
• Abstract
• Full Text
• References
Article Outline
I. Purpose
II. Introduction
III. Methods
IV. Results
V. Discussion
VI. References
VII. Copyright
This analysis of the Agricultural Health Study cohort assesses the mortality experience of licensed pesticide applicators and their spouses.
This report is based on 52,393 private applicators (who are mostly farmers) and 32,345 spouses of farmers in Iowa and North Carolina. At enrollment, each pesticide applicator completed a 21-page enrollment questionnaire. Mortality assessment from enrollment (1994�"1997) through 2000 provided an average follow-up of about 5.3 years, 447,154 person-years, and 2055 deaths.
Compared with the general population in the two states, the cohort experienced a very low mortality rate. Standardized mortality ratios (SMRs) for total mortality, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, COPD, total cancer, and cancers of the esophagus, stomach, and lung were 0.6 or lower for both farmers and spouses. These deficits varied little by farm size, type of crops or livestock on the farm, years of handling pesticides, holding a non-farm job, or length of follow up. SMRs among ever smokers were not as low as among never smokers, but were still less than 1.0 for all smoking-related causes of death. No statistically significant excesses occurred, but slightly elevated SMRs, or those near 1.0, were noted for diseases that have been associated with farming in previous studies.
Several factors may contribute to the low mortality observed in this population, including the healthy worker effect typically seen in cohorts of working populations (which may decline in future years), a short follow-up interval, and a healthier lifestyle manifested through lower cigarette use and an occupation that has traditionally required high levels of physical activity.
Key words: Farmers, Mortality, Pesticides, Agriculture, Cancer
Back to Article Outline
A number of studies and reviews have documented a unique pattern of mortality among farmers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Compared with the general population, farmers appear to have a remarkable deficit in total mortality, total cancer, heart disease, lung cancer, and a number of other major causes of death. Excess mortality has been reported for accidents (7), for non-malignant respiratory conditions (8), and for a few cancers (lip, stomach, skin, eye, prostate, brain, soft-tissue sarcoma and leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma) by some 2, 3, 6, but not others 5, 9.
Although certain lifestyle factors undoubtedly contribute to some of these mortality deficits and excesses, they may not provide a full explanation. The favorable total mortality and mortality for tobacco-related diseases is heavily influenced by lower smoking rates among farmers. Farmers, however, may have contact with a number of potentially hazardous substances (10). High rates of non-malignant respiratory diseases may be due to contact with dusts, chemicals, and engine exhausts 8, 11. Excesses for certain cancers could be due to sunlight, pesticides, other chemicals, and microbes 3, 10. Fatal accidents are associated with use of machinery and working with large animals 7, 12. Because of this mixture of positive and negative risk factors, farmers and their families offer a population that may provide unique insights into disease causation and prevention. Most previous investigations, however, have used data collected for administrative rather than epidemiologic purposes, that is, death certificates, census records, tumor registries, and may have included non-farmers. Few were based on populations of farmers specifically assembled for epidemiologic investigation (13).
To more fully explain cancer and other disease patterns in agricultural populations and to identify lifestyle, occupational, and environmental factors associated with various health outcomes, we assembled a cohort of private and commercial pesticide applicators and spouses of private applicators in Iowa and North Carolina (14) with detailed information on lifestyle, medical, and agricultural exposures. Although we have already published on the cancer incidence of this cohort (15), this article on mortality provides an evaluation of death from cancer and non-malignant diseases.
Back to Article Outline
The Agricultural Health Study ( is a prospective study of agricultural populations in Iowa and North Carolina (14). It is composed of 57,309 licensed pesticide applicators, including 52,393 private applicators (who are almost entirely farmers), and 4916 commercial applicators from Iowa only (not included in these analyses), and 32,345 spouses of private applicators for a total of 89,654 individuals (Table 1). The applicators are mostly men (97%) and the spouses mostly women (99%). The study protocol was approved by the Human Subject's Review Boards of each collaborating agency and informed consent was obtained from study participants prior to data collection.
Table 1. Persons and person-years of follow up through 2000 by enrollment category and gender for private applicators and their spouses
Category Gender Number of persons Average age at entry Person-years Average years of follow-up Average age at death Number of deaths
Private applicators Male 51,034 47.6 282,407 5.5 65.9 1529
Female 1359 48.2 7680 5.6 65.2 29
Spouses Male 219 50.8 1211 5.5 65.4 15
Female 32,126 47.4 155,855 4.8 64.3 482
Total 84,738 47.5 447,154 5.3 64.5 2055
All applicators were eligible. Enrollment of applicators took place at county licensing facilities when each pesticide applicator was asked to complete a 21-page, enrollment questionnaire. Over 80% of the applicators completed the enrollment questionnaire. Participating applicators were given a second questionnaire covering aspects of lifestyle, pesticide application, and other agricultural activities to complete at home. Private applicators were also given a Spouse Questionnaire, used to enroll the spouse, and a Female and Family Health Questionnaire to be completed by the spouse or the occasional female applicator. Recruitment started in December 1994 and was completed in December 1997.
The applicator enrollment questionnaire sought information on crops, livestock, pesticides, pesticide application methods, use of personal protective equipment, tobacco use, alcohol consumption, fruit and vegetable intake, medical conditions, diseases among first-degree relatives, and basic demographic information. Applicator take-home questionnaires sought more detailed information on some pesticides, personal protective equipment use, various agricultural practices and tasks, diet, cooking practices, non-pesticide agricultural exposures, and jobs held off the farm. Take-home questionnaires completed by the spouses covered basic demographic and lifestyle information and included questions on pesticide use, occupations outside the home, alcohol and tobacco use, leisure-time physical activity, drinking water source, pesticide use in the home, dietary and cooking practices, and medical history. The Female and Family Health Questionnaire covered reproductive history, and some information about their children. Methodologic studies have found the reliability of reporting on lifestyle and exposure factors to be quite good 16, 17, 18.
Deaths among cohort members were identified through the National Death Index (NDI) and state mortality databases for Iowa and North Carolina from time of enrollment through 2000. Underlying causes of death, provided by the NDI, were coded according to the International Classification of Diseases rules in effect at the time of death and assigned rubrics according to the 9th revision. Less than 1% of the cohort has been lost to mortality follow up.
Standardized mortality ratios (SMRs) were calculated to compare deaths among private applicators and spouses with mortality patterns in the general population in each state. SMRs were calculated for major causes of death and selected cancers, including those previously associated with farming. Causes with less than three deaths are not presented, unless they represent diseases of special importance to farming. Commercial applicators are not included in these analyses because of the small size of this sub-cohort, the relative short follow-up period, and the younger age of this group. Expected numbers of deaths for the SMRs were developed from 5-year age and calendar-time, race, and gender-specific mortality rates for the Iowa and North Carolina populations from 1990 through 1999. Mortality rates for 2000 for Iowa and North Carolina were not available and those for 1999 were assumed to apply. Statistical significance of the SMRs was based on exact Poisson 95% confidence intervals according to Breslow and Day (19). Person-year accumulation began on date of enrollment into the cohort (date of completion of the enrollment questionnaire) and ended on the closing date of this follow-up (December 31, 2000), if alive, or date of death, if deceased.
Back to Article Outline
The average age at entry was about 48 years. The average follow-up time was 5.3 years for this analysis (Table 1) with 447,154 person-years accumulated and 2055 deaths.
The private applicators and their spouses have mortality rates for most causes that were significantly lower than the general populations in Iowa and North Carolina (Table 2). The SMR for all-cause mortality was 0.5. Statistically significant deficits were observed for all causes, all cancers combined, and many individual causes of death including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, COPD, nephritis, suicide, and cancers of the buccal cavity and pharynx, esophagus, pancreas, lung, prostate, and bladder. No statistically significant excesses occurred. Causes of death with SMRs greater than 1.0 (and with at least three deaths) included Hodgkin's disease, and cancers of the gallbladder, eye, and thyroid. Mortality patterns were largely similar for applicators and spouses, but spouses had slight excesses of NHL, leukemia, and cancers of the stomach, colon, liver, soft tissue, and brain. Applicators had nonsignificant excesses for Hodgkin's disease, and cancers of the thyroid and female genital organs that did not occur among spouses.
Table 2. Mortality in the AHS cohort through 2000 for selected causes of death by enrollment category (expected based on general population mortality rates in Iowa and North Carolina)
Private applicators Spouses Total
Cause of death Deaths SMR (95 % CI) Deaths SMR (95% CI) Deaths SMR (95% CI)
All causes 1558 0.5 (0.4�"0.5) 497 0.6 (0.5�"0.6) 2,055 0.5 (0.5�"0.5)
All cancers 514 0.6 (0.5�"0.6) 239 0.7 (0.6�"0.8) 753 0.6 (0.6�"0.7)
Buccal cavity and pharynx 5 0.3 (0.1�"0.7) 0 0 (0�"25.4) 5 0.3 (0.1�"0.6)
Digestive system 145 0.7 (0.6�"0.8) 56 0.9 (0.7�"1.2) 201 0.7 (0.6�"0.8)
Esophagus 16 0.5 (0.3�"0.9) 1 0.3 (0.1�"1.9) 17 0.5 (0.3�"0.8)
Stomach 10 0.5 (0.2�"1.0) 4 1.1 (0.3�"2.8) 14 0.6 (0.3�"1.0)
Colon 56 0.7 (0.6�"1.0) 31 1.2 (0.8�"1.6) 87 0.8 (0.7�"1.0)
Liver 8 0.6 (0.2�"1.1) 4 1.7 (0.4�"4.3) 12 0.7 (0.4�"1.3)
Gallbladder 3 2.0 (0.4�"5.7) 2 1.3 (0.1�"4.6) 5 1.6 (0.5�"3.8)
Pancreas 29 0.6 (0.4�"0.9) 10 0.7 (0.3�"1.2) 39 0.7 (0.5�"0.9)
Lung 129 0.4 (0.3�"0.4) 29 0.3 (0.2�"0.5) 158 0.4 (0.3�"0.4)
Soft tissue 4 0.7 (0.2�"1.8) 3 1.4 (0.3�"4.1) 7 0.9 (0.4�"1.8)
Melanoma 13 0.7 (0.4�"1.3) 2 0.4 (0.1�"1.6) 15 0.7 (0.4�"1.1)
Breast 3 0.9 (0.2�"2.7) 54 0.9 (0.7�"1.1) 57 0.9 (0.7�"1.2)
Female genital 4 2.1 (0.6�"5.5) 25 0.7 (0.5�"1.1) 29 0.8 (0.5�"1.2)
Ovary 4 3.9 (1.1�"10.1) 13 0.7 (0.4�"1.2) 17 0.9 (0.5�"1.4)
Prostate 48 0.7 (0.5�"0.8) 0 0 (0�"1.6) 48 0.7 (0.5�"0.9)
Bladder 7 0.4 (0.1�"0.7) 2 0.8 (0.1�"2.7) 9 0.4 (0.2�"0.8)
Eye 2 2.1 (0.2�"7.6) 1 3.7 (0.1�"20) 3 2.5 (0.5�"7.2)
Brain 19 0.7 (0.4�"1.1) 11 1.1 (0.5�"1.8) 30 0.8 (0.5�"1.1)
Thyroid 3 1.8 (0.4�"5.3) 0 0 (0�"2.2) 3 1.3 (0.2�"3.7)
NHL 33 0.9 (0.6�"1.2) 16 1.2 (0.7�"2.0) 49 1.0 (0.7�"1.3)
Hodgkin's disease 3 1.7 (0.3�"4.8) 0 0 (0�"2.5) 3 1.1 (0.2�"3.3)
Myeloma 11 0.6 (0.3�"1.2) 5 0.9 (0.3�"2.1) 16 0.7 (0.4�"1.2)
Leukemia 27 0.8 (0.5�"1.1) 14 1.4 (0.8�"2.4) 41 0.9 (0.6�"1.2)
Diabetes 26 0.3 (0.2�"0.5) 18 0.6 (0.4�"1.0) 44 0.4 (0.3�"0.6)
Cardiovascular disease 537 0.5 (0.5�"0.6) 82 0.4 (0.3�"0.5) 619 0.5 (0.5�"0.6)
COPD 35 0.2 (0.1�"0.3) 15 0.3 (0.2�"0.7) 50 0.2 (0.2�"0.3)
Nephritis 9 0.4 (0.2�"0.7) 6 0.9 (0.3�"2.0) 15 0.5 (0.3�"0.8)
Motor vehicle accidents 56 0.8 (0.2�"1.0) 14 0.8 (0.4�"1.3) 70 0.8 (0.6�"1.0)
Non-motor vehicle accidents 74 1.0 (0.8�"1.2) 8 0.6 (0.3�"1.2) 82 0.9 (0.7�"1.1)
Suicide 46 0.6 (0.5�"0.9) 7 0.7 (0.3�"1.5) 53 0.6 (0.5�"0.8)
SMRs adjusted for calendar year of death, age, state, race, and gender.

SMRs for applicators were based primarily on mortality among men and for spouses primarily among women. There were only 29 deaths among female applicators and they resulted in SMRs of 0.5 (95% CI, 0.3�"0.7) for all causes, 0.7 (95% CI, 0.4�"1.2 based on 12 deaths) for all cancer, 3.9 (95% CI, 1.1�"10.1, based on four deaths) for ovarian cancer, 2.8 (95% CI, 0.3�"10.1 based on two deaths) for NHL, and 2.2 (95% CI, 0.2�"7.8, based on two deaths) for non-motor vehicle accidents. Male spouses experienced 15 deaths and resulted in SMRs of 0.9 (95% CI, 0.5�"1.5 based on 15 deaths) for all causes, 1.0 (95% CI, 0.3�"2.4 based on five deaths) for all cancers, and 1.6 (95% CI, 0.3�"4.7 based on three deaths) for lung cancer.
The mortality for most causes of death was quite similar in the two states with large deficits for all causes, all cancers, lung cancer and cardiovascular disease (data not shown).
Table 3 displays SMRs for selected causes of death among private applicators stratified by presence of livestock or corn on the farm, farm size, and duration of handling pesticides. There were no obvious mortality differences across these strata, although the numbers of events were small for many categories. Table 4 shows SMRs for selected causes of death by cigarette use, strenuous non-occupational summer exercise, off-farm employment, and follow-up period.The lower SMRs among never smokers than ever smokers for many causes of death were to be expected. For example, all-cause and all-cancer SMRs were less than one for both nonsmokers and ever smokers, but the deficits are considerably larger among nonsmokers. Individuals who reported they engaged in strenuous leisure-time exercise for more than 1 hour per week had lower SMRs for all causes combined, cancers of the colon, breast, prostate, and brain, and cardiovascular disease than those who exercised for less than 1 hour per week. Holding a non-farm job did not appear to impact the mortality from any disease. The SMRs for the first 2 years of follow-up and most recent 2 years were similar for most causes, although there might be a slight increase in the recent period.
Table 3. Mortality among private applicators in the AHS cohort through 2000 by type of farm and exposure (expected based on general population rates in Iowa and North Carolina)
Grew corn Had animals (Other than poultry) Farm size (Acres) Years handled pesticides
No Yes No Yes Cause of death Deaths SMR Deaths SMR Deaths SMR Deaths SMR Deaths SMR Deaths SMR Deaths SMR Deaths SMR
All causes 669 0.6∗
889 0.4∗
946 0.6∗
612 0.4∗
610 0.5∗
541 0.4∗
313 0.5∗
1010 0.5∗

All cancers 220 0.7∗
294 0.5∗
308 0.6∗
206 0.5∗
203 0.6∗
183 0.5∗
99 0.6∗
337 0.5∗

Colon 13 0.5∗
43 0.8 30 0.8 26 0.7 18 0.7 22 0.7 8 0.6 39 0.7∗

Pancreas 8 0.5 21 0.7 15 0.6 14 0.6 9 0.6 16 0.8 26 0.4∗
26 0.8
Lung 67 0.5∗
62 0.3∗
87 0.5∗
42 0.3∗
46 0.3∗
40 0.3∗
25 0.4∗
80 0.3∗

Prostate 24 0.8 24 0.6∗
29 0.7 19 0.6 21 0.7 13 0.5∗
10 0.7 30 0.6∗

Brain 8 0.9 11 0.6 11 0.8 8 0.6 9 1.0 6 0.4∗
5 0.9 12 0.6
NHL 14 1.0 19 0.8 17 0.9 16 0.9 14 1.0 15 0.9 10 1.4 22 0.8
Myeloma 5 0.8 6 0.6 8 0.9 3 0.4 4 0.6 4 0.6 1 0.3 1 0.6
Leukemia 11 0.9 16 0.7 19 1.0 8 0.5∗
13 1.0 9 0.6 7 1.0 22 0.8
Cardiovascular dis. 222 0.6∗
315 0.5∗
322 0.6∗
215 0.5∗
219 0.6∗
184 0.5∗
106 0.6∗
355 0.5∗

COPD 17 0.2∗
18 0.2∗
30 0.3∗
5 0.1∗
14 0.2∗
7 0.2∗
8 0.2∗
23 0.2∗

Non-motor vehicle accidents 18 0.9 56 1.1 29 0.8 45 1.2 22 0.9 39 1.1 17 0.9 48 1.0
SMRs adjusted for calendar year of death, age, state, race, and gender.

∗95% confidence interval does not include 1.0.

Table 4. Mortality among private applicators and spouses in the AHS cohort through 2000 by lifestyle characteristics and follow-up period (expected based on general population rates in Iowa and North Carolina)
Ever used cigarettes Strenuous leisure time summer exercise Ever held non-farm job Follow-up period
No Yes ≤1 Hour >1 Hour No Yes Through 1998 1999�"2000
Cause of death Deaths SMR Deaths SMR Deaths SMR Deaths SMR Deaths SMR Deaths SMR Deaths SMR Deaths SMR
All causes 748 0.4∗
1131 0.6∗
637 0.6∗
446 0.4∗
348 0.5∗
838 0.5∗
1157 0.5∗
898 0.6∗

All cancers 296 0.5∗
405 0.7∗
247 0.7∗
197 0.6∗
140 0.6∗
351 0.6∗
415 0.6∗
338 0.7∗

Colon 45 0.9 35 0.8 31 1.0 23 0.8 19 0.9 42 0.9 47 0.8 40 1.0
Pancreas 16 0.5∗
23 0.8 11 0.6 14 0.8 7 0.6 22 0.9 25 0.7 14 0.6∗

Lung 14 0.1∗
134 0.6∗
45 0.4∗
35 0.3∗
24 0.3∗
59 0.3∗
90 0.4∗
68 0.4∗

Breast 35 0.7 16 1.0 27 1.2 18 0.7 6 0.6 46 0.9 39 1.1 18 0.7
Prostate 17 0.6∗
27 0.7 15 0.7 9 0.5∗
11 0.7 14 0.6 29 0.7∗
19 0.6∗

Brain 21 1.1 5 0.3∗
10 0.9 4 0.4∗
6 0.9 11 0.6 15 0.6 12 0.6
NHL 27 1.1 22 1.0 12 0.8 17 1.2 8 0.8 24 1.1 29 1.0 20 1.0
Myeloma 7 0.6 7 0.7 5 0.8 3 0.5 1 0.2 7 0.7 12 0.9 4 0.4
Leukemia 20 0.9 18 0.9 13 1.0 13 1.0 7 0.8 21 1.1 21 0.8 20 1.1
Cardiovascular disease 210 0.4∗
352 0.6∗
185 0.5∗
109 0.3∗
106 0.4∗
204 0.4∗
359 0.5∗
260 0.5∗

Non-motor vehicle accidents 34 0.8 43 1.1 19 0.9 18 0.8 12 0.8 27 0.8 57 1.0 25 0.7
SMRs adjusted for calendar year of death, age, state, race, and gender.

∗95% confidence interval does not include 1.0.

Back to Article Outline
This initial evaluation of the deaths among private pesticide applicators (almost entirely farmers) and their spouses participating in the Agricultural Health Study indicates they experience a very favorable mortality compared with the general populations of Iowa and North Carolina. This is consistent with the published literature on farmers 1, 2, 3, 5. The deficits for overall mortality and a number of selected diseases in this cohort, however, are somewhat greater than previously reported. The mortality pattern was similar in the two states and did not vary much by farm size, type of farm operation, years of handling pesticides, or holding non-farm jobs. Although nonsmoking participants had lower SMRs than smokers for tobacco-related causes of death, it is striking that even smokers had lower mortality rates for these diseases than the general population. Those engaging in more frequent strenuous leisure-time physical activity tended to have lower SMRs for a number of causes than those with lesser activity, although these differences were not statistically significant. Leisure-time exercise may be a poor measure of physical activity for farmers who traditionally perform many physically demanding tasks associated with their farm activities.
Some of the observed deficits are undoubtedly due to the well-documented healthy worker effect observed when working cohorts are compared with the mortality experience of the general population 20, 21. This is likely to contribute to the mortality deficits among the applicators, but might be less important among the spouses. The healthy worker effect, however, complicates interpretation and without some adjustment means that true excesses could be entirely missed and others diminished against this back drop of low mortality. We chose not to make a formal adjustment, such as dividing cause-specific SMRs by the total mortality SMR, but we do recognize that SMRs for some individual causes of death may be artificially low. It would be preferable to have another working population from these two states for comparison, but no such group is available. The healthy worker effect is typically the strongest during the early years of cohort follow-up and moderates over time 21, 22. Such moderation may occur in the Agricultural Health Study cohort as follow-up continues. We calculated SMRs for follow up through 1998 and for 1999 to 2000. Although the SMRs for all causes of death rose from 0.5 to 0.6 and all cancer from 0.6 to 0.7, these differences are small and the follow-up is really too short to draw meaningful comparisons at the present time. The major objective of the AHS, however, is to evaluate the impact of specific agricultural practices, exposures, and lifestyle factors on disease risk and this can be accomplished using internal comparisons, for example, comparing exposed and unexposed farmers, which largely removes the healthy worker effect present in comparisons with the general population. The purpose of this article, however, was to provide data on the mortality experience relative to the general population, rather than identify risk factors for specific diseases.
Farm families engage in a number of positive health habits that have a beneficial impact on mortality rates. Many of these traits are found in rural populations whether engaged in farming or not. Stiernstrom et al. (23) found that for several causes of death among farmers and non-farming rural residents, mortality rates were similar and considerably lower than urban residents. Non-farming rural residents did have a slightly higher mortality rate than farmers for all tumors combined. Tobacco use among farmers is less than for urban populations (3). Only 15% of farmers in the cohort and 10% of their spouses were tobacco users at the time of enrollment (14). Smoking rates were low even in North Carolina where tobacco is an important crop. This compares to 26% of the men and 21% of the women who are smokers in the general population in Iowa and 28% among men and 21% among women from North Carolina (24). These differences, however, would not explain why smokers in the AHS cohort have lower mortality for many tobacco-related causes of death than the general population, which is a combination of rates among smokers and nonsmokers. Other factors must be involved. Alcohol use did not appear fundamentally different among the cohort and general population. Thirty-four percent of the farmers and 44% of their spouses reported they had not used alcohol during the past year compared with 31% among men and 44% among women in the United States (25). Farmers may, however, be more physically active than individuals in other occupations. Physical activity is known to be protective against a number of chronic diseases, including coronary heart disease, diabetes, cancers of the colon and breast, and perhaps other malignancies (26). Farming typically requires a considerable amount of physical activity and was the explanation for the lower levels of heart disease observed among farmers in studies in Georgia and Iowa 27, 28. The low prevalence of smoking, alcohol use, and physical inactivity would lead to lower mortality rates for several major causes of death including cardiovascular disease, stroke, and cancers of the lung, colon, mouth and throat, liver, pancreas, bladder, and kidney 26, 29, 30.
Several previous incidence and mortality studies of farmers have reported excesses for cancers of the lip, stomach, skin, brain, and prostate and lymphatic and hematopoietic system 1, 2, 3, 9, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37. We observed no statistically significant mortality excesses for any cancer in the Agricultural Health Study cohort after 5.3 years of follow-up and there were only a few SMRs of 1.0 or larger, including cancers of the gallbladder and eye among applicators and spouses; non-motor vehicle accidents, Hodgkin's disease and cancers of the thyroid, and female genital organs among applicators; and NHL, leukemia, soft tissue sarcoma and cancers of the stomach, colon, liver, and brain among spouses. Some of the cancers with small excesses were cancer sites (i.e., eye, stomach, NHL, myeloma, soft-tissue sarcoma, and leukemia) that have been reported as excessive in previous investigations of farming populations 3, 31, 32, 33. These small excesses are somewhat more impressive when considered in light of the very low overall mortality for this cohort. As with mortality, cancer incidence rates among applicators and spouses in this cohort are generally lower than the general population (15).
Historically, rates of injuries and accidental death rates among farmers are among the highest for any occupational group 3, 7, 38 and farmers rank number 12 among the 50 highest rate occupations for fatal injury (39). It is not clear why we found an SMR of only 1.0 for non-motor vehicle accidents among applicators and an SMR of 0.6 among spouses, although Acquavella and Olsen (5) did not see an excess in their meta-analysis of mortality among farmers. It could be that Iowa and North Carolina farmers have lower accident rates than farmers elsewhere. Zwerling et al. (40), however, found excess mortality from accidents among Iowa farmers in the 1980s and agriculture ranked high for fatal occupational injuries among self-employed workers in North Carolina (41). There is some evidence that rates of fatal occupational injuries are declining in the agricultural sector 42, 43 and this study of mortality in the late 1990s may reflect this pattern.
In summary, private applicators (mostly farmers) and farmers' spouses participating in the Agricultural Health Study have a very low overall mortality. A more careful evaluation of this population is warranted to identify environmental and lifestyle factors in the agricultural environment that may contribute to these deficits. There are a few causes of death with slight excesses that deserve attention as the cohort ages when there will be larger numbers for analysis and the impact of the healthy worker effect moderates. The combination of very low mortality for many causes of death and possible excesses for a few causes of death make this a valuable cohort to identify factors associated with good and ill health.
Back to Article Outline
1. Blair A, Zahm SH, Pearce NE, Heineman EF, Fraumeni JF. Clues to cancer etiology from studies of farmers. Scand J Work Environ Health. 1992;18:209�"215
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2. Pearce N, Reif JS. Epidemiologic studies of cancer in agricultural workers. Am J Ind Med. 1990;18:133�"142
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3. Blair A, Dosemeci M, Heineman EF.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 5:42PM
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mes111(5b -Purling NY & 7b -Nassau County NY)

What do you mean when you say "soft" compounds?

Interesting read. Just goes to show that sometimes what seems to make "common sense" is not.
Disappointing to me because I believe that many of our societal dis-functions are as a result of "common sense" having left the room.

Your post reminds me of a study I read about a while back (don't remember where) that seemed to indicate that people exposed to low level radiation had a lower incidence of cancer than the general population.


    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 6:05PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

What do you mean when you say "soft" compounds?"


Soft pesticides are traditionally what the EPA would classify as "reduced-risk" compounds. They have a very low toxicity on mammals and aquatic life. They have a low impact on the environment in general.

"Hard" pesticides are typically older generation pesticides which are more broad spectrum. They are generally more toxic to broad classes of insects. Some of the organophosaphates (like Imidan) are an exception to this rule. My understanding is that predatory insects are fairly tolerant of Imidan (I once read this was due to its decades of widespread use, but I don't see how that could account for its low toxicity to beneficials, because it seems to me pests would also have become more tolerant of the insecticide along with the beneficials, yet Imidan remains one of the most effective insecticides against PC - one of the most common fruit pests.)

Regardless, I don't think it can be argued that some of the newer reduced risk pesticides are "softer" meaning they have a lower toxicity to mammals, aquatic life, and beneficial insects. I've sprayed my tomatoes repeatedly with a soft compound and they still have all kinds of garden spiders making webs in the cages. I saw a Praying Mantis casing on one of the tomatoes the other day. You definitely pay more for these compounds, as is the case with any newer technology.

This post was edited by olpea on Sat, Aug 23, 14 at 8:34

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 7:09PM
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Interesting read Harvestman. There are however so many variables in a study like this that it's pretty hard to get a very accurate "read" on things. It does appear though that a lot of attention was given to minimizing these variables as much as possible.
I searched out 4 names from the study list, 2 women and 2 men and their background info. makes me believe that this study was indeed on the level. Having said that, I would like to know where ALL the funding came from. I suspect most if not all was governmental money due to the government agencies listed as well as searched employees backgrounds, both former and current.
I think this is a good study, and at the very least, probably shows that the pesticides are far safer than say having a tobacco habit. I do find that mildly reassuring.
I hate to be a "Doubting Thomas" about everything, but life and my attention to political matters has made me quite cynical. Had this been a study compiled by the ag chemical industry, I'd have given it zero credibility.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 11:49PM
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Olpea...if that old farmer's friends lived to be in their 90's, they'd have likely sprayed far harder compounds than Carbaryl...would they not?
Wouldn't they have been "in the game" when London Purple and Paris Green (lead arsenates) were the mainstays...and still at the transition to the safer DDT?

"Still perception is reality and organophosphates have a bad rep. nowdays. Supposedly there may be some correlation to ADD and children, and the EPA is cracking down on organophosphates and seems to be determined to phase them out."

Yeah Olpea...I've pretty much came to the same conclusion as you. However, it's not hard for me to understand where this "bad rep" and stigma has come from. When folks think of the dangers of pesticides the first thought that comes to mind is DDT. Everyone (well most everyone) is aware of the issues that come along with it. Did you know (I didn't) that Parathion (an organophosphate) is more than 30 times more toxic than DDT. It too has been banned.
As I understand it organophosphates were discovered in Hitler's Nazi nerve gas program. IG Farben I believe was one of the principal industrial giants involved. IG Farben was the German company that developed Zyklon B for use in the Nazis concentration camps. To the Nazis distorted way of thinking it too, was a pesticide. I understand the bad rep, even if it is not fully warranted. Maybe the fear of gov't crackdowns will spur the chemical industry to research and hopefully develop safer pesticides. I sure hope so. I'd like nothing better than to spray with rainbows and unicorns if it was effective. Olpea...I didn't see the ADD link in my research, but I did see a connection to Autism in children...that is very troubling to me since I have 2 young children. I'll keep them far away from it.
I still think the ultimate answer will be in the development of disease resistant varieties that develops it's own the GMO corn. As much as folks dislike that idea it's probably the best long range plan.

I'll spray the Imidan, not because I think it's safe, but rather because I think it's safe enough.
Thanks to everyone for all the great information and feedback.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 1:05AM
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Olpea, just wanted to add that after reading more I see ADD is apparently a form of Autism as is ASD. Pyrethroids and Carbamates have similar links as well. I found no concrete evidence though, but enough circumstantial evidence seems to exist to raise concern.
Maybe I could just spray Imidan early for PC control and then use "safer" stuff later in the season. Would that work...does it sound reasonable? I can't keep the kids out of the yard all summer.
If I do that, I'll have to sell some of this stuff...any ideas?

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 1:24AM
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alan haigh

When you start doing this kind of research, if you look beyond pesticides, you find out that there are at least as strong and usually stronger associations with common materials within your house, including the plastics that we use to gather and store our food and drinks, the foam in our living room furniture and so forth.

Industrial products that are much less tested than those used in agriculture permeate the air within our homes, automobiles, shopping malls and offices. Even the food we eat probably contains much higher quantities these compounds than pesticide residue.

Once you begin this search for evidence of newly introduced industrial chemicals that may cause harm to your children you may need a synthetic compound just to allow yourself sleep at night -cancer be damned.

Use some common sense. Close the windows when you spray and keep the kids out for whatever the label requirements state and ask them not to climb the fruit trees or roll in the grass underneath when not fully clothed when fruit is protected with poison.

If you gift them with the joy of eating tree ripe fruit from your own trees it will probably have lifetime influence in their eating a more healthy diet and do a great deal more good than harm.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 5:40AM
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Yeah...I get what your saying harvestman. Remember the FEMA trailers that had the cancer causing formaldehyde paneling etc? When I was 15 I got a full time job in a home center and at that time all the cheaper paneling and MDF board were full of it. The area where it was stocked just reeked of the chemical. I often think about that. People covered the walls in there homes with it and was then inundated with the fumes/vapors for decades.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 11:33AM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

"Olpea...if that old farmer's friends lived to be in their 90's, they'd have likely sprayed far harder compounds than Carbaryl...would they not?"

I'm guessing most of their orchard career would have been during the popular organophosate era. DDT wasn't banned till the 70s, but organophosphates started replacing it in the 60s mostly. They also would have likely sprayed 2,4,5-T (agent Orange) a popular agricultural herbicide, since it wasn't phased out till the 70s. They probably also sprayed DDT and possibly the arsenates you mention (Paris Green, etc.) My father in law was born in 39 and he remembered using lead arsenate on the farm garden for squash bugs. You could probably throw Black Leaf 40 in the mix as one of the things they sprayed also. Although a natural product it has a low LD50 value (i.e. very toxic to mammals, including humans). So all in all they probably sprayed some pretty nasty stuff.

"Did you know (I didn't) that Parathion (an organophosphate) is more than 30 times more toxic than DDT."

I didn't know the LD50 value, but am aware organophosphates typically have lower LD50 values. Some (like Parathion) are very toxic. My applicator's license manual mentions that Parathion has a 100% absorption rate in men, through the scrotum. The book points out that this has the same effective result as injecting the compound directly in the bloodstream (Interestingly, the stomach does not have a 100% absorption rate - some of the compound passes through the digestive track without being absorbed - so theoretically it would be safer to drink the compound than to get it on the scrotum.)

Years ago I once knew of a farmer who rigged up his own field sprayer. He used a 55 gal. drum for a tank and and powered the sprayer using a PTO pump. The drum sat on the 3-point on the back of his tractor. The drum was open at the top and since the tractor was a footstep (no cab) the pesticide would splash up out of the barrel on his back and down in his tractor seat. So he would sit in it all day. Absorbed a lot of pesticide I'm sure.

"As I understand it organophosphates were discovered in Hitler's Nazi nerve gas program."

I had heard that before. Really most pesticides act on the nervous system, so organophosphates aren't unique in that regard, they are just more toxic - generally. Guthion is another one that comes to mind. The EPA just got through phasing it out.

My understanding is that the EPA is eventually going to phase out Imidan. You probably read in past posts that Imidan used to be approved for dusting dogs (think dusting the family dog, bringing it in the house, children wrestling with the family pet, using the family pet as a pillow to lay their heads, while they watch TV, Imidan dust everywhere.) and could be purchased by anyone for spraying their trees. It was used in this fashion for 40 years. As I recall, they made it more restrictive sometime around 2000. No more pet dusting, and started packaging it for commercial use.

Even though I doubt I'll ever use Imidan, I wouldn't be afraid to spray it personally, and definitely wouldn't be afraid to eat fruit sprayed with it. I'm just trying to use a softer compounds because I think that's what my customers prefer. I'd probably use organic methods (that's what customers would like best) except that I wouldn't be able to raise any peaches organically here.

Below is an article about a possible link b/t organophosphates and ADD. I remember when it came out, the researchers admitted it was not a very conclusive link and there were a lot of "holes" in the research, yet the newspapers had a field day scaring everyone off apples/fruit.,8599,1989564,00.html

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 2:19PM
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mes111(5b -Purling NY & 7b -Nassau County NY)

Any suggestions as to the best place to buy Imidan, Lorsban etc.


    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 5:55PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)


Anymore, ag chemicals can be obtained anywhere on the Internet with a Google search (which is probably your best bet if purchasing small quantities). I notice even Ebay sells all kinds of ag chemicals.

For larger quantities, most farmers use their local Coop/chemical supplier, or a national chain like Crop Production Systems (CPS) which has offices in about every state.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 7:03PM
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Olpea...thank you for the informative reply. Your knowledge is an invaluable resource here.

Mike: you can find imidan on ebay. There are other sites online selling it also, but they are all the same ones selling it on ebay. It's around $90 for the 5 lb. bag (5-1 lb. packages making 400 - 600 gals spray). I found nobody selling it in any smaller packages than that, and I looked EVERYWHERE. Southern Ag repackages commercial grade fungicides and insecticides and sells on ebay, but the cost premium for the smaller packages is VERY steep. I would like to sell some of mine because I have more than I could ever possibly use, but am unsure of the legality of doing so. I suppose as long as the product labels and warnings etc were included it shouldn't be an issue. All these labels including the MSDS sheets are widely available online. I believe it has been determined here that the appropriate mix rate is 1 tbsp. per gallon, some reporting very effective PC control at substantially lower mix rates.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 12:11PM
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mes111(5b -Purling NY & 7b -Nassau County NY)

Thanx guys

I wanted to make sure that the prices I was seeing ($85- $95) was right.


    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 1:45PM
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They are. Harvestman was getting the previously packaged 4 lb. for $35 back in 2009. I'm thinking that's not the case anymore, otherwise someone would be remarketing on ebay for enormous profit. How much were you looking to buy Mike?

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 1:57PM
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alan haigh

Look up CPS and call them about their pricing. The problem is they can't ship it anymore, as I recall. At least you'd have a ballpark figure, but pesticide prices have gone up quite a bit even with the old standbys.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 2:29PM
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Google Keystone Pest Solutions, they have 5lbs bags of Imidan for $72

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 10:31PM
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alan haigh

Someone here should buy a 5 pound bag and split it up, sending carefully packaged pound bags to other co-buyers. At a tablespoon per gallon one pound should last quite a while.

Olpea is right about the problem with plant bugs, which seem to be more and more numerous- especially stink bugs, but Imidan is still great on coddling moth and curculio.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 6:10AM
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appleseed70're right Keystone has it for $72, but the cheapest shipping would have cost me $15. They sell on ebay also.The cheapest out there was from Sunshine Gardens Punta Gorda, FL @ $85 W/free shipping.
Imidan even showed a 40% mortality rate on BMSB, with I think another 40% moribund. That still left 20% unaffected however. I wanted it for it's powerful action against PC, it's really the only insect that OTC products have proven useless for me.
I'll maybe look into how much it would cost me to ship a pound of it if anyone is interested. I think I'd want to find a good plastic container to ship it in if anyone is interested.
It would take about $75 worth of triazicide to make 100 gals of spray and even then, with lower effectiveness and little PC control.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 9:27AM
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alan haigh

And you can make about 600 gallons with 5 pounds of Imidan and it doesn't get stale in a couple of years like triazide.

Get a lifetime supply while it's still available, I say.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 12:45PM
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speaking of shelf life harvestman; Do you know anything about the shelf life of myclobutanil? I just purchased 6 - 16 oz bottles of Immunox on ebay for $9.99 + shipping. I'm giving 3 bottles to a friend and I'll use the myclo in 2 seasons, so I think it will be ok.
It's the more recent 1.55% formulation.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 1:23PM
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alan haigh

Most commercial pesticide liquid formulations that I've checked on have at least a 5 year shelf life, but for specifics there should be a customer service site for that product to let you know. The myclo I use is in powder form so I don't have much to worry about (beyond breathing the dust).

I was surprised when olpea pointed out the short life of pyrethroids- the commercial version I get (Asana) prints the date it comes out of the factory but no other info on the label about shelf life.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 2:17PM
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I buy imidan in 4 lb lots too. Even with my 22 fruit trees, that amount lasts a very long time. I have used it for 8 years and still worked just as good as when I first got the batch in. I did share some with friends who are licensed
pest applicators that also grow some fruit trees in the backyard.

I have the same issue on Captan. Buying 8 oz containers locally is a fortune for the price. I finally got Captan 50 in
3 or 4 lb bag which worked good. I really want to try Captan 70 but those 6 lb bags it comes in would last me way too long.

As far as the stink of Imidan, I do open the large water soluble pouches (wearing a respirator and in an area with no wind) when I divide the contents into smaller disposable
Glad freezer containers. These are labeled afterwards on side and top as to contents for my own records. I then put each container into a gallon ziplock bag. I store all of them in a giant plastic tub with cover that latches. Technically, they are now triple wrapped and the smell still leaks thru when I am near the tub. Not bad though. I keep this tub in the milkhouse as it stays cool and dry there.

I do the same on my bulk Captan as I have fruit trees at
two locations that I care for. That way it is easy for me to grab a container of whatever I need for each site as I run low.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 11:42AM
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mes111(5b -Purling NY & 7b -Nassau County NY)


I have 75+- trees so I will be buying the 5 lb. sizes and store it.


    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 3:00PM
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