Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tomato Seedlings Damaged by Herbicide Vapors

Where you decide to start and raise your vegetable transplants sometimes determines whether those transplants live or die. By now your transplants are already at the stage to be planted in the garden or have already been planted. Whether these transplants have the vigor needed for continued growth can be directly affected by where they were started.


Take for example transplants that were started in the same area where herbicides were being stored. In the early stages of development the tomato seedlings grew perfectly. It was not until the temperatures got hotter that these seedlings started to develop strange looking and twisted leaves. Some of the leaves grew much longer and thinner than normal.

The leaves had the characteristic ruffled edges as seen in the photo on the left.
The cause of this distortion was due to vaporization of herbicide located somewhere in the same building, in this case in the garage. Perhaps herbicide was spilled sometime in the last several years and the residue wasn’t adequately cleaned up. As the temperature increased vapors were produced that drifted onto the young seedlings. The herbicide damage might have been due to vaporization of chemical residue around the neck of a bottle of herbicide. The damage may have been due to vapors from a nearby application of herbicide that drifted into the garage when the door was open.

While herbicide-damaged tomatoes may out grow this problem the tolerance for 2,4-D residue and other herbicides on or inside tomatoes is very low. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agencies tolerance of 2,4-D contaminated tomatoes is 0.05 ppm. This is six times lower than what is permitted in horse meat (0.3 ppm). Are you sure you want to eat herbicide contaminated tomatoes or other vegetables? I don’t!

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