March 15, 2010
If all goes according to plan, members of the lawn care industry will have a new weapon in an arsenal that was wiped out following the Ontario pesticide ban in April 2009.

Under the product name, Fiesta, the manufacturer, Neudorff North America, compares the weed killer to 2,4-D. Horticulture Review sat down with company vice president Cam Wilson during his recent visit to the turf symposium at the University of Guelph. “We think this is the Holy Grail of weed killers,” said Wilson. “Our company is very excited about the possibilities.”

The product is presently awaiting its final approval from Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA). Wilson says that once approval is received, which he is expects soon, then it goes before the Ontario Ministry of Environment for a 45-day posting for public comment. He expects all that to be completed by May 1.

Fiesta has been in the making since 1999, and according to Wilson, was put through a very careful screening process. “We found that specific iron compounds selectively controlled dandelions and other weeds in turf,” says Wilson.

Over the past 10 years several hundred spring, summer and fall trials have been conducted with Fiesta in Ontario at Ridgetown and Guelph, and at Victoria, B.C., California, Ohio and in Germany.

Fiesta is a selectively-toxic iron compound that can be absorbed through leaves. Weeds turn noticeably black or brown within 24 hours.

Wilson claims PMRA has evaluated the product as ‘low risk.’ Other attributes are that it works in a wide variety of temperatures ranging from 10 to 30 C., children and pets may go onto a treated areas once the spray dries, and there is a broad spectrum of weed varieties that will be killed or suppressed by the product.

Once on the market, the product will be distributed as a liquid concentrate. Wilson says that it’s too early to determine a cost for the new product. He also said that supply will not be an issue, with the raw ingredient in ready supply for the manufacturer located in Fresno, California.

Neudorff is a German-based world-wide company that has been in business for over 100 years.

Following the turf symposium in Guelph in mid-February, Wilson said, “The talk went very well and there was a lot of interest. It was interesting to note that references were made to Fiesta in talks following mine. Pam Charbonneau presented her Fiesta data and it looked very good, as well.”

Says Charbonneau, “I had the opportunity to conduct one research trial with Fiesta in the fall of 2009. The results that I obtained were very favourable for the control of dandelion and black medick. The results on narrow leaf plantain were not as dramatic. So, under the trial conditions (fall, good weed-and turf-growing weather) the product performed well.”

Fiesta is calling itself the “new tool in your weed control toolbox,” and will be a welcome addition to the depleted list of products available to the Ontario lawn care industry.