A response to some of the anti-spray nonsense coming out of Lanark County

June 28, 2017

A look into dangers of using herbicide to control wild parsnip outbreak in Lanark County
COMMUNITY Feb 03, 2016 by Theresa Peluso

I write from the point of view of a Rideau Lakes Township property owner who looks after fifty acres of trees on a 107 acre fam. Wild parsnip is a current problem to my seedlings because it has spread from the township road into adjacent fields. Ms. Peluso naively claims that “After two years, the plant dies.” She further suggests that the seeds don’t spread far. Nothing could be further from the truth. The seeds are magnets for birds. I now have clumps of wild parsnip growing wherever on my tree plantation there was a patch of bare ground and a bird has stopped to roost after a big meal of parsnip seeds. These were not “disturbed” sites in almost all cases.

After eight years of careful mowing, I can state definitely that Ms. Peluso is wrong when she claims that regular bush-hogging before the plant goes to seed will kill wild parsnip. In its first stage it will regrow and flourish indefinitely.

Until this year I have used increasing concentrations of Roundup in a spot-spraying program to keep the wild parsnip from overwhelming my seedlings. Reluctant to spray excessively, I mowed the aisles between the seedlings with a rotary mower. The Roundup worked, but the areas I chose to mow repeatedly, simply grew back. But now the wild parsnip survivors have become tolerant of the spray. It’s time for a new herbicide.

“With proper management, using environmentally sustainable solutions, we can control the spread of this plant.” Sorry, Ms. Peluso, we can’t. Not unless we kill every small bird in Eastern Ontario with a taste for wild parsnip seed.

My merchant just quoted me $1450 for a container of Clearview. Roundup ran $265 last time. Clearview is a serious financial step for a hobby farmer or a municipal government, but I see no point in unleashing Roundup-tolerant wild parsnip seeds on the environment.

Finally, I would suggest that parents not listen to those who belittle the risk to kids of wild parsnip. It’s nasty stuff, far more of a threat to unprotected faces and arms and legs than poison ivy.

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