Wednesday, February 13, 2008

New Organic Dandelion Control

We met with Jeff Watson, the President of Sarritor. Sarritor is the name of the company and the name of a new Organic Dandelion Fungus that will control dandelions and other broadleaf weeds in lawns. Sarritor is a "naturally occuring weed control." This may be the breakthrough that will change organic lawn care.
We first spoke about Sarritor in our blog in December. New Dandelion Control- Made in Canada
Jeff Watson has been working with his father, Dr Alan Watson, the "inventor" of Sarritor since December 2004. Aong with dandelion, Sarritor will control a long list of weeds including: thistle, white clover, burdock, ox-eye daisy, Canada fleabane, plantain, yarrow, Chicory, Canada thistle, wild strawberry and more. It even works reasonably well on wild violets, one weed that is hard to control with the traditional herbicides.

The product is applied in granular form. The fungus is impregnated on barley grits. The product needs to be moistened by irrigating or rainfall within 12 hours. Once the product is moistened, the fungus starts to grow with white mycelium.

The white mycelia will invade any susceptible plants that are nearby. In a few days the white mycelia disappears, but by then it's too late for the weeds. The dandelion will die in 7-10 days when the temperatures are 18-22 degrees Celsius. If the weather is cooler, the weeds may take up to 2 weeks to die. Although tough old dandelions may need more than one application, young dandelions are controlled with a single treatment.

Fortunately, for lawns, grasses have a natural resistance to this particular fungal disease. The product should be kept away from vegetable and flower plants as the fungus can cause these kinds of plants to die as well.
One advantage of Sarritor over the old herbicides is that it can be applied in the rain. Since the fungus needs moisture to be activated, applying the product in the rain is not a problem. However, high temperatures can de-activate the fungus, and Sarritor should not be applied if the temperature is expected to be over 30 degrees Celsius.

Sarritor has no safety issues that some biologicals may encounter. It does not reproduce by spores. It does not produce toxins. It does not persist in the environment. It does not spread.

Jeff Watson expects that large scale production will begin for the 2009 season. A manufacturing facility is expected to be up and running, but supplies may be limited for the first year.

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