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Vinegar Dressing Too Hot For Weeds
Researchers are hot on the trail of the latest vinegar and oil combination, but for weeds, not salads. When Rafiq Islam accidentally sprayed some plants with what he thought was water and turned out to be vinegar, they died.
"Vinegar is an organic solvent that appears to dissolve the fats or lipids in the waxy layer of a leaf," says Islam. "Then it penetrates and kills the tissue."
Vinegar has long been a traditional cure for what ails you. Advocates claim it helps everything from weight loss, arthritis, gout and lethargy to cleaning kitchen drains and tenderizing meats.
Islam isn't the first to notice its affect on plants. Housewives and USDA researchers have all tried it. John Teasdale, one of the USDA researchers who have studied its herbicidal qualities, found that a 10 percent vinegar (or acetic acid) solution was needed to be effective. Store-bought vinegar runs about 5 percent, and researchers found it provided only marginal control.
Islam hopes to find out even more about vinegar. This past year he ran plots comparing mowing, Roundup and store-bought vinegar on weed control. Unlike the earlier USDA research, his trials found good control with the vinegar. It also produced slower decomposition than Roundup, creating a longer lasting mulch effect.
"This winter we are initiating greenhouse trials in different types of weeds with different timing and rates," says Islam. "We also are looking at how many times we have to apply. How economical and how effective is it?"
In the meantime, Ohio Department of Agriculture pesticide regulators are warning farmers that only products specifically labeled as herbicides or pesticides may be used on plants.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Rafiq Islam, Soil and Water Specialist, The Ohio State University South Centers, 1864 Shyville Rd., Piketon, Ohio 45661 (ph 740 289-2071 ext.147; or 800 297-2072; fax 740-289-4591; islam.27@osu.edu).

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2006 - Volume #30, Issue #1