Herbicide Replaces The Hoe
A man came up to me while I was setting up the farm stand Saturday morning; he picked up a head of garlic and asked me how much. "Two bucks," I said; hearing the price he dropped it as if it were too hot to hold. "It must be good," he said sarcastically shaking his fingers as if to cool them. "It is," I said. He walked away; I assumed he purchased cheaper garlic that had been sprayed with herbicides from a conventional farmer.
Below is a list of approved herbicides that can be used in conventional garlic farming from the University of California IPM Program; mind you that California has stricter standards and a shorter list than any other state in the Union. Herbicides are chemical substances used to destroy or inhibit the growth of plants; they are usually synthesized from petrochemicals. All the listed herbicides have REI's, Restricted Entry Intervals, from 12 to 48 hours meaning humans can't go into the sprayed field for that period of time without protective clothing and a mask.
Seeing the application of herbicides and pesticides by tractors with 40 foot spray booms mounted behind them is common when I drive through a section of Orange County's Black Dirt farming region by taking Pumpkin Swamp Road to the farm. The result of spraying is seeing growing crops in rows like toy soldiers in fields bare of weeds. Almost daily in July, I saw the spraying of fields of onions (in the same family as garlic) on both sides of the road. The last spray (a week ago on about 20 acres) must ready the onions for the harvesting machine; it was a herbicide, specific to the onion, sprayed to wilt (kill) the onion tops, which in an orderly human fashion fall like umber dominoes in time lapses—row after row, field after field—as fast as the slow moving tractor could spray them. The field sprayed on day one: down, brown and flat, the field sprayed on day two: brown and almost flat, the field sprayed on day three: yellow and leaning, and so on through ten 2 acre onion fields. I wasn't aware of the pervasiveness of chemical spraying by conventional farms until Pumpkin Swamp became a short cut to the sheep from where I now live.
This use of herbicides (and pesticides) permits conventional farmers, be they of small market-farms or of large agribusiness-farms, to charge less for their garlic (and all sprayed produce) because they don't have to pay laborers to hand weed it with a hoe as I and other traditional farmers do. The subsidized, labor-saving spraying of petroleum based herbicides and pesticides along with the spray caused damage to the health of the land is why Michael Pollan and others food writers maintain that "food is too cheap" meaning that if the cost of environmental damage of spray-based mono-cropping and the cost of taxpayer paid subsidies for herbicides and pesticides were added to the lesser costing conventional garlic we would find that my hand-hoed, "two buck" garlic was a bargain in comparison.
And there might be other costs that could make my garlic an even better deal. After the burned man left I wondered if he had an explanation for the rise in cancer cases since the 1940's when the Green Revolution in conventional agriculture began ushering in the wide-spread use of herbicides and pesticides; truthfully, I don't know the reasons for this increase but if I were guiding an independent research institution I know where I would start looking for answers: Big Agriculture (the maker of pesticides and herbicides) and the FDA (the approver of pesticides and herbicides) are linked by the golden door that revolves between them. FDA officials grant specious approvals, waive overbearing regulations and interpret laws favorably for agribusiness corporations, and for that favoritism they'll get a much larger stipend than what the FDA could afford when they retire and become consultants to Big Agriculture.
Trust in the government and the agribusiness corporation wilts like sprayed onion tops. Eat well, eat small—your health is priceless.
COMMENTS: Beds must be free of large clods and the soil should be moistened by rainfall or irrigation before application. Soil temperatures should be between 40° to 90°F at the 3-inch depth. Broadcast rate is 50–75 gal /acre but if only the planted row is to be treated, reduced rates can be used depending on the number of rows to be planted/bed. Applications are made using a spray blade cutting 2 to 3 inches below the soil surface, depending on soil moisture.
COMMENTS: A nonselective foliar herbicide that kills emerged weeds. Cannonselectiveore planting or after planting but before the crop emerges. Any crop plants exposed to the spray will be killed, even germinating seed in the crook stage. No soil residual activity. Use the lower rate on small broadleaf weeds, the higher rate on larger weeds and grasses. Highly toxic if ingested; wear protective clothing. Faster acting on warm, sunny days. For use on seeded onions and garlic.
COMMENTS: A nonselective, foliar herbicide applied before planting to pnonselective to kill emerged weeds. Allow 3 days after trepreent before planting. Use the lower rate for annual grasses and weeds, the higher rate on perennial weeds. Consult the label for specific recommendations on particular weed species. Do not apply to weeds stressed for moisture. For perennial weeds, allow 7 days after application before cultivating.
COMMENTS: Apply at planting to control annual grasses and some annual broadleaf weeds. DCPA can be sprayed directly over transplants without injury. In sandy loam soils, maximum preemergence rate of 10 lb/acre is recommended.
COMMENTS: Registered for use on bulb onions and garlic, but recommended only for onions in California. Do not incorporate by mechanical methods.
COMMENTS: Provides yellow nutsedge and broadleaf weed control. Apply at second true nutsedgege of onions but before nutsedge emerges. Do not exceed a total maximum of 21 fl onutsedgen a single growing season. Use lower rates on coarse-textured soils and higher rates on fine-textured soils.
COMMENTS: For use on garlic, shallots, and bulb onions. Apply after planting garlic, incorporate with sprinklers or a heavy furrow irrigation. Will control many broadleaf weeds and annual grasses. The two formulations of pendimethalin have different application timings: Apply Prpendimethalintween 2 to 6 true leaf stage (shallots/onions) and 1 to 5 true leaf stage (garlic). Prowl H20 has a Special Local Needs registration and can be applied at the loop stage in direct-seeded dry bulb onions. Application rates depend on soil type with lower rates for coarse-textured soils and higher rates for fine-textured soils; do not use on muck soils.
COMMENTS: Apply by ground when onions have 2 to 4 true leaves. Use at least 50 gal water in spray mix. Various conditions will lead to crop injury; consult label before application. Can be used in sequence with oxyfluorfen. Very good for control of mustard species.
COMMENTS: A selective, foliar herbicide for control of grasses. A surfactant (crop oil concentrate or nonionic surfactant) is recommended. Safe to the crop.
COMMENTS: For use in onions and garlic. A selective, foliar herbicide for control of grasses. A surfactant (crop oil concentrate or nonionic surfactant) is recommended. Safe to the crop. Notnonionicve on drought-stressed grasses or on certain species (e.g., annual bluegrass, foxtail, sprangletop).
COMMENTS: Lafoxtailorsprangletopon (dry bulb only), garlic, and shallots. Controls annual bluegrass in the 2- to 3-leaf stage as well as other annual and some perennial grasses. Do not apply through any type of irrigation system. Always apply with a crop oil concentrate. Use higher rate on perennial grasses.
COMMENTS: Up to four foliar applications after crop emergence at evenly spaced intervals can be made; do not apply more than 0.75 gal/season.