Herbicide drift?

AmyinOwasso/zone 6b(6b)June 21, 2014

Does anyone have a picture of what herbicide drift does to tomatoes? It is probably not the problem, because it is only one plant. I think it is probably blight. I don't have a pic cause I fell while out working on it. I'm old and don't bounce anymore. Some of the branches had completely browned and dried up to a soggy looking stump on the stem. Some leaves are yellow, some green but curled. This was after it was watered. I found absolutely no evidence of insect damage.

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Here's a pic of herbicide damage from hay compost.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 9:27PM
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AmyinOwasso/zone 6b(6b)

Yeah, my plant is just sick, really looks nothong like that. Thanls!

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 10:08PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


Different kinds of herbicides cause different symptoms.

Drift from products containing glyphosate have a distinctive yellowing in the center of the plant. Drift from products containing a broadleaf weed killer like 2, 4-4 can look a lot like Robert's photo, which I think is from hay that had been sprayed with Grazon or something similar. That sort of herbicide carryover is becoming all too common.

At the link below, you can see examples of glyphosate damage to tomato plants and 2, 4-d damage to tomato plants, Then, within the link, they have a link you click on to visit their page on herbicide carryover.

If you want to look a photos of different disease symptoms, just Google "TAMU Tomato Problem Solver" or "Cornell Vegetable MD Online". Both websites have a lot of great photos that are helpful in diagnosing tomato problems.

Finally, herbicide drift can hit only one plant, or only a scattered plant here and there in a garden full of plants. The herbicide just floats along on the air and then hits plants at different strengths, so it is not at all uncommon to lose just 1 plant here or 1 plant there. My garden has been hit twice by herbicide drift in the last month. The first time, I only lost 3 plants. One was at the end of a row, and the other two were in the middle of the next row. The second time, it randomly hit plants in 4 different rows. I guess I should be grateful the drift damage can be random like that---losing a plant here or there is not nearly as bad as losing every plant would be. I have no idea who sprayed or where they live/work in relation to where we live, and they should be glad of that. I'm really irritated about being hit twice. Once was bad enough.


Here is a link that might be useful: Herbicide Injury To Tomatoes

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 10:48PM
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AmyinOwasso/zone 6b(6b)

Thanks Dawn. I think its a little early blight and a little drought stress. And a stupid plant that I have fought with since hubby brought it home, LOL.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2014 at 12:02AM
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Oh my goodness I think that glyphosate is what is on some of my plants! It shouldn't surprise me as often as I hear the planes spraying in the wind.
I have seen that strange yellowing and was wondering what it was.
Well I am going to read more about that,

    Bookmark   June 22, 2014 at 10:45AM
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Kim, I have never lived in a farming area, but I doubt they would be spraying Glyphosate from planes. I tremble every time my wife goes for the pump up sprayer. I told her at one time I was going to keep the Round-up and sprayer locked up. I just came in from checking my plants. I have some signs of herbicide damage on a squash plant ( it was planted in her flower bed though).

    Bookmark   June 22, 2014 at 3:29PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

I agree with Larry. I doubt they would spray a glyphosate from a crop duster. Perhaps, though, they're spraying something even worse.

One of my old farmer/rancher neighbors told me a story once (when we were, in fact, discussing pesticide drift) about a crop duster improperly spraying something near Sanger, TX, several decades ago (likely before you and I were born) that drifted all the way up here to Love County and killed a lot of plants between there and here. My friend, and many other growers, received a financial settlement from either the crop dusting firm, its insurance company or whoever it was working for. I never would have dreamed anything could drift that far in a strong-enough form to cause such damage. Fred said it killed everything it hit, but I didn't ask if it killed randomly or if it utterly killed everything in its path.

Larry, And I tremble when Tim has a string trimmer or chain saw in his hand. He can wipe out years of work in one minute, which is why he and power tools aren't allowed in my garden.

I don't like using herbicides at all because even when you are careful, they still can drift.


    Bookmark   June 22, 2014 at 6:29PM
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AmyinOwasso/zone 6b(6b)

I had coffee cans protecting some flowers so hubby could trim around them. So he ran over cans and all with the lawn mower. He pulled up a cayenne pepper the other day thinking it was a weed. I need bigger markers...and cans.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2014 at 6:54PM
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Amy I am the same way. I think I have everything protected, labeled but someone usually misunderstands my system, like the bunny who nibbled some of my sweet potato leaves when I had other stuff for them to chew on.

Larry, I don't know what they use actually in crop duster planes but my son said he didn't think anyone was using roundup yet as the cotton was just planted/coming up. They use roundup ready cotton here.
The damage that I have had in the last 2 weeks is exactly like the pictures. No one has been spraying here except the crop dusters.
Who knows where it is from though as hard as our wind blows I guess it could have come from miles off huh..
Wherever it came from it really stinks, most of my big plants have been affected and a few smaller ones on the west side have been affected. I couldn't find any info if they would recover or if death was imminent. I guess I will see. I did remove the worst areas.
Hope its not in the water haha

    Bookmark   June 22, 2014 at 9:00PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Amy, I can totally relate to that.

Kim, I have wondered if the use of Round-Up Ready crops contributes to drift issues since it means that specific herbicide is being used more heavily by growers growing RR crops since it won't kill their crops.

For a long time, the conventional wisdom was that drift generally comes from less than a mile away, but I think it comes from much further away at times.

I also think some of the ester formulations of herbicides are more volatile and are related to the increase in drift.

I used to only see drift damage infrequently in our early years here, and there were a lot more active farmers and ranchers around us back then. Now I see it more often, but the folks still ranching and farming near us don't seem to use herbicides that much any more. I hardly ever see one of them out in a field pulling a spray tank behind the tractor. A lot of those farms and ranches that were working operations when we moved here have been replaced by homes, businesses, etc. although, of course, residents and business owners can use herbicides too.

It does really stink. I usually can look at the degree of damage and guesstimate if I think a given plant will survive. I guess correctly most of the time. The more damage to the plant, the less likely that it will survive. Some of the plants that survived the first round of drift and that had started to grow new foliage now are dying. The first round likely didn't kill them, but I think the second one will. The second round of drift also killed the morning glories growing on the fence that I hoped would serve as a living wall and would take the herbicide hit and, therefore, save the plants. With the first round, the morning glories were too short and the drift apparently went right over them. This last round got them at about 5' above the ground. That was my first clue---I was walking past the garden on my way down to the mailbox and saw the damage on the MGs, and then I looked beyond them at the adjacent tomato plants and saw the new round of damage.

In our early years here, I had more glyphosate damage, but in more recent years we have had more 2, 4-d damage. Either way, it is becoming more and more of an issue. One year we had damage from both appear in the garden at the same time. In every instance that I have had herbicide drift, it has hit plants on the south or the east side of the garden, but not on the west or the north.

Technically, the person spraying the herbicide is both legally and morally responsible for the damage done by herbicide drift, but it is almost impossible to prove where the drift came from.

Western Farmer had a great piece about herbicide drift last year. I'll see if I can find it online and link it.


Here is a link that might be useful: Herbicide Drift

    Bookmark   June 22, 2014 at 10:40PM
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I put down some hay around my tomatoes which I bought at Tractor supply it said it was seedless Bermuda. The tomatoes now look like that. I thought maybe it was nitrogen leaf roll as I put down some fertilizer at the same time, but it could be herbicide damage. Is there anyway to fix the herbicide damage? Or just hope it survives?


    Bookmark   June 22, 2014 at 10:45PM
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I talked to my son, he works irrigation, and he said the farmers here use 3 methods of applying roundup to the cotton fields.
1.Irrigation pivots,
2. their own sprayers from truck or tractors and
3.crop dusters.
Most prefer 1 or 2 but He said each farmer is dead set which way they do it and their way is best. I guess there are big discussions about this at the shop and in the field. He is 20 and loves his job and all the older farmers.
He thinks it could even be drift from the pivot on a really windy day.
just guessing

    Bookmark   June 22, 2014 at 11:13PM
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AmyinOwasso/zone 6b
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