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  • Deception & Lies: Acceptable Business Practices?

    Here's something I was forced to put up in a couple of gardening groups in my local area today. I was just wondering about your opinions of this. Is this normal?
    -------------------------------------------------
    Plant & See Nursery is kind of a problem. I refuse to do business with them any more. I will let you decide for yourself at the end of this story (evidence included). I would recommend you do the same. They no longer care about their customers, or their business, or even plants! I hope you will share this on your social media, because this is a story that needs to be told. These folks need to know this is not how you treat customers.

    Let's begin with a few months ago. I bought some wheat straw from them and brought it home. I had asked when I called, while I was there AND while I was paying if this had been treated with herbicide. Thrice I asked and thrice I was assured it was not. When I got it home, I applied it to a watermelon bed, 1 out of 2 planted within a few days of each other. I also used this on my peppers bed, and my potatoes/sweet potatoes bed, and I put the rest of the bale (I bought 2) into my homemade compost bins (6 bins, 4x4x4, so abour $2,500 worth of compost).

    It turns out that this straw had been sprayed with a herbicide called AMINOPYRALID. This was confirmed by the type of damage (leaves curling up, new growth being stunted and curling from the edges, yellowing leaves) but also by what plants are targetted. Beans are the most susceptible, followed by solanaceae including peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, etc, then by cucurbits like watermelon and squash. In the potato bed, the potatoes keeled over pretty much immediately. Within weeks. I harvested what I could, it was all pretty small. The sweet potatoes, not being in the solanaceae family (they are a type of morning glory believe it or not!), thrived and took over the bed. The peppers stayed 6 inches tall for 5 months and just recently died in the August sun, six inches tall since it was put in in late April. I saved a few of the luffa and watermelon by pulling the mulch off the bed after the potatoes died, but they were still quite stunted and frost will probably kill them before they fruit. The other watermelon plant, that didn't get mulched with this (it received cattails from my neighbor's farm) was about 14 foot wide at this point, while the other one was maybe a 2 foot vine. Photos included.

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    I contacted Plant & See once I had used a bean test to confirm it was the mulch. I put a quick-germinating bean in a cell, got it to two true leaves like I always do and put it right in. I did this with 4 different plants and all displayed aminopyralid damage then death immediately. They could not have cared less. They said their straw came from a reputable source, the biggest in North Carolina, and they have limited options which they could spray it with. Remember that I had been told multiple times, including in the phone call earlier in the week when I was told two things very clearly: #1 the boss lady was on vacation and #2 they did not have herbicide in the straw. Once they returned from vacation -- I wasn't going to stress them while they were out of town -- they responded in such a hostile fashion, like of course they use herbicide, duh. They responded as though I was the bad guy for asking, but their staff were telling people this product was herbicide-free so I had to contact the EPA. They were continuing to sell this product knowing it was tainted. I'm still waiting for the EPA results, I'll update this thread with that information when I receive it. But I can confirm that from the time I put that report in in June until today, 8/24/2021, they are still telling people their product does not have herbicide, despit the Lassiters clearly admitting it does.

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    At that point I decided I would never shop there again. But I had already shopped there, and it turns out that came back to bite me in the butt. You see, I bought a tree called STRAWBERRY VERTE from them, among a few other trees. This produces a GREEN fig when ripe, hence VERTE in the name. The fig that this tree they sold me produced was violete, quite an unexpected color. I called, spoke to the tree guy in the back, and when I identified myself as the guy who had had issues with the straw he said "no, no, our straw doesn't have herbicide" (so they're still telling people that as of 8/24/2021) then was told to send the boss lady an email. I did, and she did not even have the courtesy to look at the photos. I'll include evidence of all of this, but notice that the tree in question is CLEARLY in a pot, correct? Notice this lady CLEARLY tells me to "dig it up" if I want to get a refund, and that she only acquires plants from reputable sources, but she can't remember who those sources are. In the fruit tree game, where it takes up to 8 years or more for fruit to bear, that is simply unacceptable. But equally unacceptable would be her not realizing from that photo that that fig was in a container, the same container she sold it to me in, with the same label she sold it to me with. I'm not sure how they can't go look at that label and determine where it came from, but I must conclude that they don't truly care.



    Please share this and leave a comment if you think this is as unacceptable as I do.
    Attached Files
    My CollectionFor TradeWish ListMy Listings
    Zone 8A •
    Greenville, NC

  • #2
    Sorry that happened. It’s difficult to find anything that doesn’t have herbicide residue. Straw, hay, compost, manure, any grain by-product, including rice hulls— All of these have herbicides in them. Most places that sell this stuff don’t even realize it, and will tell you it’s not sprayed when it is. I don’t feel it’s acceptable, but most people don’t even think about it. Many assume products sold are safe.

    The tree isn’t cool either. All you can do is leave an honest review and take your money elsewhere. If they treat their customers badly, they won’t stay in business.
    ░░░SoCal░ ░ ͡ i ͡ ░ ░Zone░ ░9A░░░

    W/L: La Joya, Ondata, Belvedere, Bebera Branca, Fico Giallo, Vernino, Asunta 5 Paco (DF)

    Comment


    • Shaft
      Shaft commented
      Editing a comment
      I'm a recent PBH convert, so if you think there's something wrong with it please LMK.

    • Gold Figger
      Gold Figger commented
      Editing a comment
      alfalfa is broad leaf and would not grow in a broad leaf herbicide. i get compost from horse farmer that is all they feed.

    • Shaft
      Shaft commented
      Editing a comment
      Gold Figger I love alfalfa but it's so expensive. I use it in compost and as a fertilizer. I've been thinking about growing my own to use as mulch and fodder

  • #3
    They've been in business 40 years. It's the most popular nursery in my area

    Are you getting your pbh from am leonard? I've had no herbicide issues from them

    Tbh I still would've bought the straw, herbicide or no. But I would've used it differently
    My CollectionFor TradeWish ListMy Listings
    Zone 8A •
    Greenville, NC

    Comment


    • #4
      I probably wouldn't even buy rocks from them if we're the cheapest in town. At this point only the essentials that no one else sells. Give my money to someone who cares.

      Comment


      • Shaft
        Shaft commented
        Editing a comment
        I quit using perlite for that reason and switched to rice hulls, which I have to admit I like a whole lot more. That was the only place in town to get it at a reasonable rate in bulk so now I go to A. M. Leonard. Just bought a 90 cubic foot bale of rice hulls... kind of curious to see how big this thing actually is IRL. https://www.amleo.com/rice-hull-bale...bic-feet/p/RHB

    • #5
      http://www.plantandseenursery.com/about-us

      "Plant and See Nursery was started on the Lassiter family land. Tom Lassiter had received an English degree from ECU but had a passion for horticulture and a love of growing. This passion has stayed with him as he has remained owner, operator, and grower of Plant and See for almost 40 years. Tommy has dedicated his life to locating and growing the best crops for this region while staying up-to-date on the newest varieties."

      Dedicated his life to staying up to date on the newest varieties yet doesn't know where his trees come from? Curious.
      My CollectionFor TradeWish ListMy Listings
      Zone 8A •
      Greenville, NC

      Comment


      • #6
        No offense BUT, the name sorta gives it away. Plant and SEE. See what the heck your actually going to get lol.
        Rossville,Ga.
        Wishlist Cravens Craven

        Comment


        • Shaft
          Shaft commented
          Editing a comment
          That's hilarious lol!

        • Figology
          Figology commented
          Editing a comment
          The D fell off a long time ago. They just never got arounD to it 😂

        • Shaft
          Shaft commented
          Editing a comment
          lmao!

      • #7
        Well it looked and behaved like organic hay, so they decided that “organic” was a suitable synonym.
        Joe, Z6B, RI.

        Comment


        • Shaft
          Shaft commented
          Editing a comment
          Lol. Unfortunately it doesn't behave like organic hay. More important how do you forget your source in 6 months

      • #8
        Basically you are accusing them of having herbicide residue levels in the wheat straw that is killing your plants. I think you need proof that this is happening before you claim the herbicide is killing your plants. Best to wait on your test results.
        Jennings, Southwest Louisiana, Zone 9a

        Comment


      • #9
        In 2014, I bought a truck load of compost from a local landscape company. It was contaminated with herbicide. it destroyed my tomato crop and the herbicide lingered for a couple of years. Ever since then, I would never ever buy compost from any local landscape company again. I last two years, I totally avoid using compost in my vegetable garden. It's pretty useless. Maybe, for the first year or first few month, it helped the plants grow. After that, it just disappear. If you have dreadful clay soil, you still have dreadful clay soil. So what's the alternative for me? I use lots of wood chips and perlite in my garden these days. There's an area in my yard with wet clay soil year round. Everything I planted there died. A couple of years ago, I mixed the soil with wood chips. Now, everything is thriving there. As for my vegetable beds, couple of year ago, I mix the soil with peat moss. After one year, the peat moss just simply disappeared. Now, I mix the bed with perlite. That make a huge difference. Now, spring tilling to get the garden ready for planting is effortless takes almost no time. And boy, those sweet potato plants are highly productive.

        Another thing I have misgiving about compost/hay in the garden is that it's a perfect breeding ground for pill bugs. And my biggest difficulty in gardening these days is pill bug infestation. They destroy most seedlings. The first year in-ground fig trees always struggle to survive here. And every night, they climb up the trees to feast on ripe figs.

        I used hay to suppress weeds and maintain ground moister before. It does the job very well. Unfortunately, end of the season, underneath the hay there's thousands and thousands of pill bugs. Most of them are juveniles born under the hay. So, what's the alternative? I now use ground fabric. It's like magic. It suppresses the weeds and keep the ground moist. I rarely need to water my garden these days, albeit it's at the lowest part of my yard.




        Cleveland South - Zone 5B.

        Comment


        • Shaft
          Shaft commented
          Editing a comment
          Yeah we have pill bug problems too. Wood chips is also a good environment for them from my understanding. I use woodchips about a foot deep, and instead of perlite I use PBH. I definitely have hard clay soil. I'm doing agroforestry (nitrogen fixers, pioneer plants that break up clay, etc) along with berms and swales to fast-track that, but I make my own compost, usually from trusted sources. P&S is now no longer one of my trusted sources. I also vermicompost, as well. I prefer homemade compost to bought-in compost any day.

          I rarely if ever water my in ground beds. My land is swamp land. Thanks for sharing your story I like being able to compare what I have to what you have!

      • #10
        Your question - Is this normal?

        Yes, probably for most nurseries of this size it is. You asked an employee (probably seasonal) expecting them to know if their straw had been sprayed. I'm sure with the stigma around herbicide usage they are trying to protect the reputation of the company and said no. Most farmers are going to use herbicide on their crops. Unless they specifically state that they don't or it's organic. As mentioned above the same thing with compost. A lot of lawn clippings go into it which can contain similar herbicides. I learned that from experience. I'm not sure what they primarily use straw for around there for landscaping, but here it's mostly for grass establishment. Not mulch. So, the herbicides would be a non-issue.

        What are you hoping to achieve by alerting the EPA? Have you read the herbicide label at all? At least one with that AI. The PHI is only three days (Milestone). Even then, it's up to the grower to do a bioassay to determine if a crop can be planted after there's been residue or manure applied. Not to mentioned just because you have assumed it's the correct AI, you'd probably need a herbicide test costing 100s of dollars and then you'd need to know which brand the herbicide is. Even then, they'd probably still be on label.

        If it's like here straw is limited. Most is grown for animal bedding. The nursery is probably a small portion of the sales for the farmer. These are all assumptions.

        As far as the fig. They offered a solution for you and you declined. Based upon the previous conversions you had with the straw I wouldn't have given you a name either if I was the business owner. It's more likely they didn't want to taint the relationship with their distributor by having one of their unhappy customers calling them vs them not actually knowing where they got it from.

        I don't think this makes them a bad business. They can't control what their employees say and they offered you a refund for your plant.
        Travis - Zone 5a, Central WI
        Wish list - Verdolino

        Comment


        • Shaft
          Shaft commented
          Editing a comment
          WIFigger that's why I kept saying it's an EPA SUGGESTION. It's a law locally here, due to constant pollution in the tar river. Local laws also matter, but you have to contact the EPA to hit a regional representative, yadda yadda.

          "Local regulations require disclosure for what exactly. Just using the herbicide, or specific situations?"

          If you're selling something that's been sprayed with this product, you must disclose that information. Anyone caught using this product in a fashion that could contaminate local waterways faces fine and possibly jail time for multiple offenses.

          02 NCAC 09L .0604 PROHIBITED DISPOSAL PROCEDURES

          No person shall dispose of any pesticide or pesticide container in any of the following manners:

          (1) in a manner inconsistent with these rules;

          (2) so as to cause or allow open dumping of pesticides or pesticide containers;

          (3) so as to cause or allow open burning of pesticides or pesticide containers;

          (4) so as to cause or allow water dumping, or ocean dumping; or

          (5) so as to violate any applicable provisions of the North Carolina Pesticide Law.

          Their website goes on to explain some examples where they could not hold the distributor of the straw liable for damage to my property -- I'm aware of that. But it does suggest that awareness throughout the chain is ideal. I'm simply making people aware in my local community.

          "Persistence of Herbicides containing Pyridines in the Environment

          In recent years, we have become aware of reported damage(s) related to the use of the following active ingredients: aminopyralid, picloram, and clopyralid, which are included in the pyridine class of herbicides. The problems appear to be related to persistent residues present in animal waste, soil, vegetation, and mulch. Below is a specific example of the types of complaints our office receives regarding the use of aminopyralid.

          Aminopyralid complaint

          A grower of hay had used an herbicide containing aminopyralid on his pasture. He cut the hay approximately 8 weeks after treatment; he then sold some of the hay to a horse owner. The horse owner then gave the manure to two other parties; both parties used the manure in the course of the following year, and observed damage to their tomatoes and other broadleaf vegetables, apparently from aminopyralid residue. Some of the symptoms exhibited on these broadleaf crops may include twisted and/or cupped leaves, reduced yield, and in some instances the death of young plants.

          The product label contains the following statements:

          Aminopyralid in Plant Residues or Manure:

          -Do not use aminopyralid-treated plant residues, including hay or straw from treated areas, or manure from animals that have grazed forage or eaten hay harvested from treated areas within the previous 3 days, in compost or mulch that will be spread to areas where commercially grown mushrooms or broadleaf plants may be grown.

          -Do not spread manure from animals that have grazed or consumed forage for hay from treated areas within the previous 3 days on land used for growing broadleaf crops.

          -Manure from animals that have grazed forage or eaten hay harvested from aminopyralid-treated areas within the previous 3 days may only be used on pasture grasses, grass grown for seed, and wheat.

          -Do not plant a broadleaf crop in fields treated in the previous year with manure from animals that have grazed forage or eaten hay harvested from aminopyralid-treated areas until an adequately sensitive field bioassay is conducted to determine that the aminopyralid residues in the soil is at level that is not injurious to the crop to be planted.

          The problem is that the information regarding aminopyralid-treated forage had not been transferred/relayed to the various people within the chain, i.e. to the end user of the manure. The label addresses the use of the product - but does not say the information is to be passed on to any potential end users. A similar complaint involved the use of a herbicide containing clopyralid & triclopyr. Another herbicide containing picloram & 2,4-D has similar statements on the label, but states not to use manure from animals grazing treated areas for use on land used for growing broadleaf crop, ornamentals, etc. Just as with the aforementioned label, the applicator is not required to pass the information down the line. In these cases we are unable to hold anyone responsible for damage to a third party property because the product was legally used; it is an issue that is probably best addressed by the EPA and the registrant.

          Our office had also received a phone call from a composting business which apparently handles a very high volume of manure every year (the caller quoted a figure of 60,000 tons). The caller wanted assistance in tracking down growers who have used this product, because of obvious concerns about potential problems for the business (she fears that people who purchase composted manure from her company may experience problems such as those outlined above). Unfortunately, there is no way to trace all uses of the product. It is the pesticide manufacturer’s responsibility to notify the EPA of any unreasonable adverse effects on the environment." - https://www.ncagr.gov/spcap/pesticid...menttrends.htm

          But the important part of all of this is the dumping into waterways. I showed the EPA how I used this product and how it attaches DIRECTLY into a waterway -- I use a chinampa-style growing system that outflows into a major canal which outflows into a major tributary, then into the pamlico sound -- a major one. By not disclosing the product's contaminated state they CAUSED this pesticide to be dumped into a waterway, that is the argument against them. " (4) so as to cause or allow water dumping, or ocean dumping"

          "You believe they were knowingly false advertising, or it was a mistake? That's a huge difference."

          Well, they told me in April it doesn't have Herbicide. I contacted them privately, well before contacting any government agency. I showed them the evidence, documented. I told them they were selling herbicide-laden materials, and I assumed they didn't know. I was hoping to let them know as a gesture of courtesy. My grandparents used to go to this nursery, it's kind of a local spot. Previous to this, I had a lot of respect for them, and I was just giving them an FYI. I didn't want anything for damages or ANYTHING.

          Their response was along the lines of "of course we use herbicide, there's only a few things that can be used. Duh!" They admitted to it, which is fine. Then, for two months, they continued to sell the same material as herbicide-free. They never bothered to tell their employees. Are you telling me you think that's acceptable? But honestly, the aminopyralid is a local issue. I just copy/pasted this from a local group, as I said earlier. The big deal for me is they don't know who their sources are. That's why I posted this in this forum.

          "Again, what are you hoping to achieve? Get them a fine?

          Good luck on your refund. If I was them I'd tell you to pound sand after all that."

          If they get fined, that's fine. Mostly I'm trying to prevent contamination of local waterways. If people choose to do business there, at least they will know not to use this stuff near ditches that flow into tributaries and the like. The tar river has enough pollution in it to not add more with such a deceptive practice. Honesty is the best policy IMHO.

          I don't really care about the refund. It's just a few dollars. They aren't going to make it worth my while any way. They're 45 minutes from my house, 30 if it's not busy. That's 30 minutes there, 30 minutes back to go buy this tree. 30 minutes there, 30 minutes back to return it as well. Gas ain't cheap. Neither is organic fertilizer, or water, or greenhouse space, or my time. They aren't going to pay me what the tree is worth. They're going to give me a "Refund" of equal value to that which I paid. That's a bum deal.
          Last edited by Shaft; 08-25-2021, 03:55 PM.

        • WIFigger
          WIFigger commented
          Editing a comment
          Well you're not directly using the product so I'm not sure that's really applicable. Pesticide disposal is different than application.

          I'm aware of these carryover issues. I've seen the exact situation with applied manure which cows had ingested it in in a soybean field as carryover.

          I'm not arguing carryover is an issue. Holding the nursery responsible is a little ridiculous IMO. Especially when the label clearly states there can be issues on non target plants due to residual.

          From this situation I still think the business isn't trying to be deceitful. It's negligence at best. Even so, I'm sure a few bales of straw isn't top of mind during their busy season.

          It's just irritating seeing local businesses portrayed like this when it seems like it was a misunderstanding that escalated. Then, when big box stores are all that's left it's the big corporation's fault.

          I'm done with this topic, just my $0.02

        • Shaft
          Shaft commented
          Editing a comment
          I don't care if it's a mom and pop shop or a big box store, I think this is an unacceptable practice. I would call out any company that engaged in this practice, large or small. I believe in the free market, and market transparency is a big thing when the market self-regulates.

          If I ask someone X and they say X is true, then I take them at their word. If that is wrong, I hold them responsible. I'm not sure why you don't.

          If someone had say X isn't true, I would also take them at their word.

          If they said they aren't sure if X is true, I would ask for them to inquire before I bought the product.

          How would I know to check "the label" of the pesticide when I'm told no pesticide was used? You keep referencing this label as if I should have read it before applying. Had I know it was there, I would have, since I know what crops aminopyralid affects and what it doesn't. But again the problem is a breakdown in the chain of communication. The straw provider knew it had herbicide; he communicated that to Plant & See, who then failed to communicate that to me. Yes, I solely hold Plant & See responsible for that. Too much damage can be caused by this level of carelessness, not just to my plants, my farm, my family, my operation, but also to the fish, the ecosystem and the waterways.

          Communication is the key to everything, particularly sales. The problem isn't that they're selling contaminated product -- indeed, I would have still bought it. But to not communicate that, and then to later on claim YOU DO NOT KNOW WHERE YOUR TREES COME FROM is unacceptable. It shows a policy of BSing the customer expecting them not to know any better. It shows contempt for the customer, which is exactly how I was initially responded to. It shows contempt, which is exactly what was underscored WHEN LINDSAY DID NOT EVEN LOOK AT THE PHOTO I PROVIDED. She said "Our sellers are reputable but I don't remember who they are" without ever acknowledging that Strawberry Verte is a green fig. Even if mad at a customer, and that customer is mad at you, an opportunity like this is a chance to redeem yourself. They chose dismissal instead.

          You assumed I started off being a butthole. I showed you the original emails. They were nothing but friendly: I also referenced in that email a phone call wherein I explained I was looking for nothing, expected nothing, and wanted nothing except that they tell customers what's in the product they're buying, and I made it clear I assumed they didn't know. That was the ASSUMPTION -- I gave them the benefit of the doubt. I'm not sure why you think that justifies rude behavior or retaliation, but thank you for your two cents.
          Last edited by Shaft; 08-25-2021, 05:02 PM.

      • #11
        This post relates mainly to another thread, not this one. . . .

        << If I ask someone X and they say X is true, then I take them at their word. If that is wrong, I hold them responsible. >>

        So if I ask, "Is this Bourjasotte Grise?" and they say, "Yes, this is Bourjasotte Grise" then it shouldn't be Violet Sepor, right?

        Again, your ethical principal leads to the conclusion that relabeling of presumed (not DNA-proven) synonyms is wrong.
        Joe, Z6B, RI.

        Comment


        • Shaft
          Shaft commented
          Editing a comment
          Not particularly, no. This has nothing to do with synonyms. I get your conparison but I think it's a huge stretch. Like, Evel Knievel on the grand canyon type stretch.

          The thread you're referencing is a discussion as to whether or not Lattarula should be reverted back to its older name, Blanche, which is on record as a known alias. I'm not sure there's ANY Strawberry Verte that produces a violet fig, regardless of alias. If A used to be known as B but some deceptive practices caused it to be renamed A then restoring it to B is just correcting the problem, which people like ASCPete is fine to do if you have evidence to do so.

          The only way the situation you descirbe with the BG and VS is if there is DNA evidence that they are the same (and I mean COMPLETE sequencing, not this partial BS) or a record of multiple people agreeing somewhere that the morphology matches (like the debate between GN AF/I-258... it's still on-going, so you wouldn't use that, but if it ever got settled and decided they were the same tree... then sure). Who decides whether the debate is done? Well, I'd say the individual seller in concert with the buyer: the seller is obligated to write his opinion that these two trees are the same, and the buyer is free to choose whether he agrees: he can even message the seller and ask for more details, like whether or not the seller acquired the propagation material for this tree from a GNAF or a I-258.

          The principle doesn't lead to that conclusion except where no conclusive proof that the BG and the VS are the same tree exists. I think it's a valid principle.
          Last edited by Shaft; 08-25-2021, 08:25 PM.

      • #12
        @Shaft, I have tried adding organized material in my soil and also growing red clover. At the end, I believe that most advices from internet are rather inefficient and kind of futile. I found that wood chips from slow decaying trees is the best solution. I found no pill bug in my wood chip pile at all.

        I have planted many trees in this area. The trees always looked sad and eventually die. I replanted new trees there, and they died again. Then, 2 summers ago, I mixed wood chips with soil. Now, this year, this apple is loaded with fruit, albeit, it still look a little sad. 2 summer ago, when I mixed wood chips with soil, I dug around the apple tree. There was no apple root 1.5 ft from the apple tree trunk.

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        Cleveland South - Zone 5B.

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        • Shaft
          Shaft commented
          Editing a comment
          yeah I'm a huge fan of woodchips as well, particularly for trees. The mulch being discussed here is for regular crops in raised beds, where I would rather avoid wood chips in place of something like cattails or alfalfa. Woodchips are amazing though =) I have it as deep as 2 feet in some places in the food forest

      • #13
        Anyone that buys TC figs will sooner or later get something other than what they wanted. That is why people that buy and sell TC figs are not reliable or trusted to have true to type figs. Question is. Is it their fault for selling the wrong fig. Or being sold the wrong fig that they are selling???
        Louisiana Zone 8/9. W/L Whatever fig I don't have.

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        • Shaft
          Shaft commented
          Editing a comment
          Fairly certain this isn't a TC, this company deals with 3 gallon only and up. Tge real question is why you assume every fig you see is a TC lol.
          Last edited by Shaft; 08-27-2021, 02:29 PM.

      • #14
        Results are in though I'm sitting on the official report for now. It wasn't aminopyralid it was metolachlor. Confirmed by tests in Raleigh
        My CollectionFor TradeWish ListMy Listings
        Zone 8A •
        Greenville, NC

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