What is Treflan Herbicide and What is it Used For?

If you’re a keen amateur gardener, you’ll know the frustration of weeds only too well. They compete with other plants for water, light, and nutrients, their root systems can overpower those of cultivated plants, and if all that wasn’t enough, they look a mess too. In your ongoing efforts to keep weeds at bay, you might have run into a little thing called ‘Treflan Herbicide.’ You might even have a bottle or two lurking in your shed. But what exactly is Treflan Herbicide? Is it safe? Is it effective? And most importantly of all, should you be using it? First of all, let’s address the central question. What, exactly, is Treflan? Treflan is a type of selective, pre-emergence herbicide that’s designed to suppress the growth of grassy weeds and certain broadleaf weeds. It’s typically used in commercial vegetable growing environments, but it’s also frequently used by amateur gardeners as a means of weed control for ornamental and vegetable crops.

Is Treflan Safe?

Regardless of a product’s efficiency, safety is a paramount concern. So, is Treflan safe? Should you be thinking twice before happily sloshing it around your garden? The primary ingredient in Treflan is Trifluralin, a herbicide which, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s website, has been linked to abnormalities in animals. Dogs exposed to the ingredients in tests were shown to display decreased weight gain along with blood and liver abnormalities. Rodents displayed a significant increase in tumors, skeletal abnormalities, and depressed fetal weight after exposure. Aquatic wildlife has also demonstrated significant adverse reactions to exposure.

In humans, the situation is more complex. While trifluralin is currently categorized as a Group C, possible human carcinogen (cancer-causing agent) by EPA, the long term effects of inhalation or direct contact with the skin are unknown. Short terms side effects include skin and eye irritation. If swallowed, immediate medical attention should be sought. Induced vomiting should be avoided as the aspiration of the chemical on the lungs can be harmful. While limited, indirect exposure is not believed to be harmful, safety precautions (including using the product only in well-ventilated areas while wearing protective eyewear and attire) should be taken.

When Should Treflan Be Used?

As per ehow.com, home gardeners should only use Treflan to treat the types of vegetables that are compatible with its use. These include cabbage, beans, broccoli, peas, kale, peanuts, transplanted tomatoes, transplanted peppers, and other certain other plants specified on the product label. As not all vegetables or plants are compatible with Treflan, easier application can be achieved by planting Treflan compatible vegetables/ plants on one side of the garden and non-compatible variants on the other side. The timing of Treflan application is vital. As Hunker.com recommends, it should be applied to soil in the early spring, either directly before planting or up to three weeks beforehand. To help inhibit the growth of weeds the following year, it can also be applied before the first frost of fall, with a second application to follow in spring.

When Shouldn’t Treflan Be Used?

As rocketswag.com writes, Treflan is specifically designed to kill and prevent the germination of grasses. Application should therefore be avoided on soil intended for growing corn or other grass-related crops. It’s important to bear in mind that Treflan is not organic. As a result, it may still be present in soil 12 to 14 months after application. Extreme care should be taken with regards to plantation timings: if edible crops such as asparagus are planted in soil that has been treated with Treflan within the past year, toxic traces may still be present after harvest. As the efficacy of Treflan depends on factors such as climatic conditions and application timing, and as it may kill plants if used improperly, it’s generally not recommended for small garden beds.

How Much Treflan Should Be Used?

Before applying Treflan, you’ll need to determine the type of soil in your garden. Recommended quantities vary according to whether you’re working with light or coarse soils (sand, sandy loam, and loamy sand); medium soils (silt or loam); or fine or heavy soils (clay, clay loams, silty clay, and silty clay loam). Full instructions can be found on the label. As a general guide, coarse or light soils require 2 1/4 teaspoons of Treflan to 1 gallon of water, medium soils require 3 1/3 teaspoons per gallon, and fine soils require 4 1/2 teaspoons per gallon of water. To mix, fill a sprayer tank half full of water, add the required amount of Treflan, then fill the reservoir with more water. Agitate the mix to ensure the Treflan is evenly distributed. As a rule of thumb, you’ll need 1 to 5 gallons of the mixture to 1000 square feet of soil. As Treflan is extremely toxic to aquatic life, avoid applying it near ponds or where there is a danger of the product running into water sources.

How To Apply Treflan

Treflan is worked directly into the top 2-3 inches of soil. To apply, spray the mixture directly onto the top layer of soil, ensuring an even, thorough coating. Once the top layer is saturated, use a garden instrument such as a shovel or hand rake to turn the soil, working the mixture into the top few inches. As Treflan can be harmful to animals, avoid letting cats or dogs into the garden until the soil has dried out completely. As direct skin contact can cause irritation, it’s also wise to make the garden off-limits to children until the product dries.

Are There Any Alternatives?

Treflan might be efficient, but ultimately, it’s a nonorganic chemical. Although its toxicity to humans is thought to be low, it’s been shown in studies to be toxic to domestic animals and wildlife. As Treflan residues can be harmful if ingested, extreme care is needed with regards to application and planting timings. Due to the safety and environmental concerns surrounding chemicals like Treflan, many gardeners prefer to use other forms of weed-control, many of which are considered to be extremely effective. Using mulching materials like newspapers, wood chips, and bark around plants and vegetables can effectively suppress the growth of weeds without involving any of the safety risks associated with Treflan and other chemicals. Weeding by hand can also prove an effective (albeit back-breaking) alternative to chemical treatments.

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