Friday, March 4, 2011
Genetically modified bentgrass continues to spread in county
By Larry Meyer
March 4, 2011
ONTARIO — Genetically modified bentgrass continues to spread along waterways in Malheur County, but is not a problem except that it is gone far beyond where it is suppose to be.
Having escaped from a field the GMO bentgrass has spread to canals and drain ditches, because it grows best where there is a lot of water, according to David Bunker, a local applicator who is involved in identifying the spread and efforts to control the bent grass.
“It is in every single drain ditch,” Bunker said.
Bunker was updating the Malheur County Weed Board at its meeting Thursday.
Bunker said only one chemical has been approved for treating the grass and it can’t not be used around water. He will be spraying in March but only has about a five-day window as there has to be 21 days between the application of the pesticide and the arrival of water. Water could enter local canals anytime after April 1. Some canals and drain ditches have running water all year long, so there will be no spraying those locations with the approved chemical.
The glyphosate-tolerant creeping bentgrass which apparently came from trial sites near Parma, will only be eliminated if a pesticide is approved for use in and around water, Bunker said. The Oregon Department of Agriculture is looking for a chemical that can be used to kill the grass and can be used around water.
Most of GMO bentgrass is found between Nyssa and the Malheur River and east of the Malheur Siphon but has been found as far south as Owyhee Junction, as far north of the Malheur River and west of the Malheur Siphon.
Because it needs a lot of water, GMO bentgrass has not been found in fields and is not a range problem.
It is not a problem for the local economy, according to officials, but with its bright green color, it will be noticed.
The announcement of its existence in the local area came out last year. Some officials believe the grass has been spreading much longer than that.