All photos courtesy Blankenship Farms and Nursery

Getting rid of wily weeds can create a backlog of other nursery chores, which eats away at your bottom line. But Blankenship Farms and Nursery discovered a product that keeps the weeds at bay and employees performing more important tasks.

The McMinnville, Tenn.-based nursery grows shade and ornamental trees in the field and in containers. Owner Jerry Blankenship was looking for ways to combat the lack of labor, including ways to become a more efficient producer. One of his solutions was adopting a better pre-emergent weed control program. As a result, Blankenship trialed Marengo, a pre-emergent herbicide from OHP.

“We found that if we applied Marengo in October or November, we’d get good control through June or July,” Blankenship says.

Prior to using Marengo, weed control in the field required one employee to spray nearly all summer – a laborious and costly task.

“Now that same employee sprays the entire farm in about a week’s time. I look at it like I’ve gained an employee,” he says. “I figured if we could get on a good pre-emergent program, the cost of the product would take care of itself.”

The nursery crew makes a different pre-emergent in summer as needed “to get us through the fall when we apply Marengo again.”

Another bonus: The fields look a lot better when showing plants to customers, he adds.

For container production, using Marengo allows the nursery to concentrate on more profitable chores. Because Marengo can be applied while the poly is still on the coldframes, the nursery crew is able to pot all winter then apply the herbicide to containers. Other herbicides aren’t labeled for use under poly.

“After potting all winter, once a house is complete, we’ll apply Marengo and get excellent control,” he says.

“That takes us through to the mid-part of summer when we’ll do a minimal amount of hand-weeding, and then we rotate in a different pre-emergent.”

Most of the containers are shipped out in the fall, and the cycle starts all over.

“Marengo gives us a good six-month head start on control,” he says. “Prior to using Marengo, the greenhouses were really weedy by the first of May when we’d remove the poly. In the spring we used to have to stop everything and do a lot of hand weeding, which took an entire crew about a week or so.”

With 2 acres of coldframes, using Marengo allows the nursery crews to do other activities, such as spacing instead of hand weeding.

For more: www.blankenshipfarmsandnursery.com