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Game Changer? New Selective Weed Control Hits Market

fiesta

We’ve been waiting for this behind the scenes for at least two years, ever since I met a representative of Neudorff North America at a Garden Writers Convention in Portland, Oregon. In what could be — and I stress Could Be — a game changer in the organic lawn marketplace, that company has released a selective herbicide for broadleaf weeds known as Fiesta that is based on a naturally occurring iron. No 2,4-D. No Dicamba, or any of the other harsh chemicals.

I just received the word from my contact at Neudorff this afternoon and the product is still awaiting licensing clearance in New York, California and a few other states, but I did find it available for sale online in a quick search.

The company’s official description makes the product sound like the Holy Grail: “a fast-acting selective bio-rationale herbicide for the control of dandelions, narrow leaf plantain and a host of other major lawn weeds.” The active ingredient in FIESTA is iron in the form of iron chelate, otherwise known as Hydroxyethyl Ethylenediamine Triacetic Acid.

Now here’s the bad news: The exclusive licensing agent in the United States, at least for 2010, is Scotts Miracle-Gro, which will sell the new weed killer under its Ortho EcoSense brand.

Interestingly, Scotts isn’t exactly blowing its own horn on this one, at least not yet. Last year, when Scotts CEO Jim Hagedorn spoke with Wendy Bounds of the Wall Street Journal, he never even mentioned this technology — perhaps because Scotts is trying to develop its own competitive technology that it hopes to own outright. The fact that Scotts has to license this product from Neudorff, thereby sharing the profits, could be tainting its marketing. Or, maybe the company is just waiting for megastates California and New York to come on line.

Either way, it will be interesting to see how this product takes hold and how it is received by the organic community. It isn’t hitting the street as an organically certified product. If anyone has any experience with this, or opinions, we’d love to hear them. In the meantime, we’ll do some testing and more research and see what we find out.

About The Author

Paul Tukey

An international leader of the green movement, Mr. Tukey is a journalist, author, filmmaker, TV host, activist and award-winning public speaker, who is widely recognized as North America's leading advocate for landscape sustainability and toxic pesticide reduction strategies.

Number of Entries : 1023
  • http://www.vikingbrothers.com John Christenson

    Paul,

    I saw you at the Organic Lawn Care Conference in Madison last week and am keeping a watch on this product. I’m excited about switching over from synthetic to organic applications and am starting to offer it. I hope this product comes online soon so we can be fully integrated.

    Kepp up the good work!

    John Christenson
    Viking Bros. Landscaping
    Rubicon, WI

  • http://www.safelawnandgarden.com Jonathan Duerr

    Paul,

    As a rookie owner of a fledgling all natural lawn care business, I am always trying new products. So per your blog I bought and tried HDETA. So far it seems to be working pretty well. Granted where I live the grass is still dormant but it seems to be knocking back the cool weather weeds like cover, henbit, and chickweed. I am curious to see how well it does this spring.

    Thanks,

    Jonathan Duerr
    Everything Green, Inc.
    Huntsville, AL

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  • Jon Wesenberg

    Five days ago, I applied ferric HEDTA (aka Iron-X when bought from Gardens Alive) to a small area of my lawn. I bought one 16oz bottle of the concentrate and used 2/3 of it to make 2 gallons of solution per the product instructions. I applied this to about 300 square feet (28 square meters) of a northern Illinois lawn which hasn’t has a bit of fertilizer or herbicide applied to it in 27 years. Very few parts of the lawn are >50% grass and a few are almost 100% broadleaf weeds and clover. (I don’t consider clover a weed.) I intentionally applied the product at varying rates from about 0.5 to 1.5 gal/100 sq ft to judge its effectiveness. It was applied immediately after mowing and three days before a 1.4 inch (36mm) rain.

    Even at lower application rates, it did a good job of knocking down dandelions, which seems to be the species most affected by this product. It only killed plantain at the higher end of its application rate. Ground ivy (creeping charlie), thistle, violets, catnip and garlic mustard seemed to be moderately affected by it. It killed the few garlic mustard plants I sprayed, but those were along a fence and may have received a higher dose. White clover seemed to be least affected by it. I couldn’t discern any damage to grass. Flowering and seed release in surviving dandelions was noticeably lower than in the rest of the lawn.

    Even though the product didn’t completely eliminate weeds, it reduced them enough to make me decide to treat the entire lawn with it.

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  • Tony Almeida

    Does anyone know if there a place online or a store where this product FIESTA can be purchased at retail?
    If so, where? I am in Ontario, Canada.
    Thank you for any help provided.
    Tony Almeida

  • Fred Neumann

    I wonder why nobody seems concerned about this product?

    Is it wise to repeatedly apply iron to the point where it could reach toxic levels in the soil perhaps affecting desirable plants or the soil microflora? I don’t believe iron moves freely in the soil and if the chelated form was mobile, wouldn’t iron contribute to oxygen robbing algae blooms in waterways?

    And why is there no concern about human toxicity when “Iron overdose has been one of the leading causes of death caused by toxicological agents in children younger than 6 years” (http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/815213-overview). Could children playing on treated lawns not be as likely to ingest this material as they could ingest anything else applied to the lawn.

    Arsenic is naturally occurring… that doesn’t mean its good. Iron is a heavy metal. Not sure this is a game changer or something we should be genuinely concerned about.

    Fred

    • Paul Tukey

      Fred,
      I think your fears are valid and speak to the absolute necessity to read the label and adhere to its directions. Too much lead could be dangerous.

  • scott

    chelated iron has been used for decades on turf and agricultural crops – never as a herbicide, and never with any reports of herbicidal activity. The fact that this product is not registered in CA, NY, or Canada, is highly suspicious, since these are the states that require you to prove that the product actually works. Sounds very fishy since the company is tight lipped about the product. Something hidden in the inert ingredients may be source of weed control (sythetic chemical herbicide).

    • Paul Tukey

      Scott,
      The product is registered in Canada and it does work on many dicot weeds, though not all.

      • Jeremy

        This formulation is registered in all 50 states, and is available at Home Depot in Ortho Elementals Lawn Weed Killer 1 gallon RTU. I have used it, and it’s dynamite!

  • Yimin Rong

    It’s complete crap. Most plants consider it a minor inconvenience and shake it off. On a lawn, you’d have to saturate your grass every day for a month to have any effect.

  • Yimin Rong

    It’s complete crap. Most plants consider it a minor inconvenience and shake it off. On a lawn, you’d have to saturate your grass every day for a month to have any effect.

  • oldabatt

    “the sky is falling”

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