Ashland to spray organic pesticides this summer

ASHLAND — Cool, wet weather hampered parks workers' efforts to use organic herbicides during the spring, so the Parks Commission will allow spraying this summer.

The Ashland Parks and Recreation Department has had a policy banning pesticide spraying in parks from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Pesticides include herbicides, insecticides and fungicides.

On Monday night, the Parks Commission granted an exception to the no-spray summer policy for Organic Materials Review Institute-approved herbicides.

The national nonprofit approves products that can be used for certified organic operations, such as farms.

Earlier this year, parks commissioners decided that only organic pesticides would be used on most park property beginning in spring.

Commissioners allowed exceptions for poison oak control and for the Oak Knoll Public Golf Course.

Parks Director Don Robertson said organic herbicides work best when weather is warm and dry. Southern Oregon had an unusually cool, wet spring, so workers were limited in being able to use organic products.

"We really couldn't give it a fair test. We really want to give organic products every opportunity to work," Robertson said.

Traditional chemical pesticides also are most effective during dry weather, but they can be used when temperatures are cool or warm, he said.

Robertson said workers will target annual plants that haven't already gone to seed and perennials. It will continue to post notices 48 hours in advance.

Organic herbicides often contain ingredients such as citrus oil and vinegar that kill weeds.

Vickie Aldous is a reporter for the Ashland Daily Tidings. Reach her at or 541-479-8199.

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