Neighbor let herbicide spray drift onto me for 3rd time : Big Correction!

For those that don’t know, the farmer next to me killed 18 of my trees and severely injured 10 more about 5 years ago. The state got involved and came down on him reasonably hard. Then 2 years ago he did it again, though it was much much less severe and only injured about 4 trees, and I just let it go.

Well, it has happened again. The good news is that this time it is another pretty minor event. The severe damage the first time was with 2, 4-D. Last time and this time it has just been some kind of total herbicide like roundup. The only damage I am seeing so far is just a lot of brown spots on the leaves of the 2 rows of trees closest to his field, and the green leaves are all falling off the row closest to where he sprays. They have just started falling off today, so who knows whether they will all fall off eventually and/or if they will have worse damage.

Photo of a Green Gage (Bevays) plum with spots on it from spray (was bright green/healthy all over 5 days ago):

Video showing neighbors field, then my property, then green leaves falling off… (no jokes about how bad I need to mow!!! ha)

I’ve attached a photo to show what the spots look like, and a video to show 2 things. First, I tried to show his field and how close it is to my trees. I have some trees that are only about 8 feet from the property line, and he sprays right up to the line. The video starts by showing his field, which has all just started dying the last 3 days and is already all brown. He killed all his grass and weeds, probably to prepare for planting something like soybeans.

I’m a bit understanding because his property is so close to my trees. But I feel like he really should leave a buffer zone of at least a few extra feet right alongside my trees. The field is 25 acres so one 10 foot strip about 200 feet long wouldn’t cost him much yield at all. I know its hard to have zero drift, but I feel like I ought to be able to grow what I want to on all of my land and not be forced to forfeit my own buffer zone/wasted land just because he cant prevent drift. If it was me letting deadly chemicals drift onto him, then I would whatever steps are neccessary. Its just not fair that I can’t use all my land because he wants to use all of his (and some of mine via the “drift zone”.

The good news is this isn’t a major damage case again, and the drift area on my property is only about 30 feet TOTAL, with only one row of trees hit hard enough to get spots and drop leaves. I haven’t decided what I’m going to do about it yet but obviously this can’t go on forever.

I’m not so much looking for advice on what to do about him- its complicated and I’ll have to figure it out. I’m also not looking for sympathy- its not devastating like the first time was and I’ve learned to deal with it… I guess I just wanted to tell you all that its happened again and to tell all of you to please be considerate of your own neighbors. Also wanted to warn you that even something like round up can drift and do damage, so be careful of your own trees.

I don’t know how or when he sprayed. I just noticed his field was all dying and my closest trees had spots and leaf dropping. He no doubt sprayed one day last week when I was at work. Oh well…life goes on!

Its a complicate situation



Any chance you could get him to work with you and notify you when he is going to spray so you can cover your trees when he sprays?


Looks like paraquat damage .
That’s bad.


Sorry to hear about that happening again, Kevin. It would infuriate me if it kept happening, but at least it wasn’t as bad as the first time. It’s hard enough to protect your trees from diseases, varmits and bugs, and then have to deal with a careless neighbor.

We have a farmer neighbor to the north of us, but have never had issues with him. I really don’t recall him spraying, and even if he did, we are pretty well protected by a screen of large trees.

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I feel because of the number of times he has done it, you should call the authorities and try to get him to reimburse you for the price of the trees just to deter him from continually spraying your property. Here it is illegal if you inform them that they are not allowed to spray or drift pesticides/herbicides/insecticides on your property and most places would ideally teach him how and when to spray to minimize drift.
Neighbors are special people since you don’t get to choose if they are in your life or not and in general i try to not engage the crazy ones as it just feeds them, they are like the old version of internet trolls i feel. However you need this to stop, It is certainly his choice to spray 2-4D which is related to DDT (it was pushed in 1945 as a way to get rid of extra DDT that was stockpiled) and has many long term toxic effects as well as links to a reduction in pollination insects and clearly he doesn’t care if he harms your fruit trees but they would be expensive to replace on his part and that doesn’t even cover your personal time and energy. I also hate taking people to court but at this point he is basically forcing you to respond or just accept this treatment.

Great articles on DDT and 2,4-D


I saw the title and first thought was “Surely not Cityman again”. I remember from the first, major incident how complicated the situation was and how severe your damage was, but the farmer also knew how severe your damage was and his responsibility in causing it. My opinion, the regulations are there for a reason, and at what point does the damage stop being just a chance wind and become his own continued negligence? 3 times in 5 years are not good odds. So sorry to hear you’ve been hit again, we all know you take great pride in your trees and produce.


Good lord. You cant catch a break bud. Hope its not too bad this time.

I agree that it looks like a burndown and not a systemic. The former is easier for the trees to grow out of.


It’s no guarantee against drift, but I signed up for Driftwatch a couple years ago.


Well, this couldn’t be much more embarrassing. The day after I reported that I’d been the victim of a 3rd spray drift, I made an appointment with a lawyer and decided I was going to go all out on this thing and not continue to be victimized or have to surrender the use of my own land because someone else keeps screwing up. That afternoon when I want to check things the leaves on my trees were falling like rain, probably about 60% of the leaves on each tree had fallen. Then it happened…

I suddenly got a sick feeling when I noted the faint yellowing circles around my trees. Then I remembered… I HAD SPRAYED ROUND UP AROUND ALL MY TREES ABOUT A WEEK EARLIER.
I hadn’t thought about when I saw the leaves falling and the spots on one tree closest to the neighbors field. That is because for 7 years I have been spraying round up around my fruit trees and never had any damage or leave loss or spotting or any problem of any kind… But this time it did, and I’m certain it was my spray that made my trees loose most of their leaves, not my neighbor. I say that for several reasons. First, I have trees in 2 small orchards. Some are very close to his sprayed field but some are very far and have my house and a lot of big, thick, tall oak and maple trees between his field and my second orchard- yet the leaves were falling just as bad on the trees that are so far away and with screening as those beside his field. Furthermore, there is not the slightest bit of damage to grass or weeds or other plants- even in the 10 feet strip between where he sprayed. Hard to imagine spray could drift from him to my trees and not harm anything between in the slightest. Last time I had drift it affected every plant in the area. You get the idea. There are other clues, but just trust me, this is my fault and feel awful for blaming him. Thank goodness I hadn’t said anything to him and hadn’t met the lawyer, so other than feeling guilty no harm done.

But what I desperately want to know is why the roundup caused leave drop on my trees this time after years of not having problems. There are some suspected reasons: First, the grass had not been mowed this year and was extremely tall (2 foot or more- like hay) In the past I’ve always mowed it first. That means there was a lot more bio mass to soak up the spray and maybe transfer it to its own roots and maybe to the tree roots contacting it. I also used more spray because of how tall the grass was and my attempt to get good coverage. Last but not least, I mixed it stronger (2 oz per gallon) than usual because my glyco was 2 years old and I worried about effectiveness loss and also made it stronger because I worried about whether my usual mix Just over 1 oz per gallon) would kill the taller, thicker grass. Its also possible it wasn’t the glyco at all. I sprayed copper at almost full strength after leaves were fully out.

Anyway, just wanted to set the record straight, even if it makes me look like a fool. ha.


Takes a good man to admit it to himself, let alone in public! Just glad you didn’t go ahead with a lawyer, ay?


For sure. That would have been a waste of money. I’m just glad I didn’t call up the neighbor (who you may recall is the Mayor and therefore one of my bosses) and let him have it. I was close to doing it. Man that would have been one awkward phone call the next day when I realized it had been my fault! ha


Perhaps there were some suckers leafed out in the grass that would have normally been mowed? I know there are lots of little stubs around my plum tree.


Well now that you have that guy identified and surrounded you should kick him square in the nuts! Hes probably made some moves on your wife and dinged up your car as well! No Mercy


The trees might have a heightened sensitivity due to repeated exposures at this time of year.

I hope the neighbor doesn’t plan his spraying soon…


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The sides of the trees opposite from the neighbors field (the far side), do they show symptomatic leaves? In other words, is the damage uniform or does it follow a drift pattern? Do you see cupped leaves or deformed shoots? Or, like in your picture, are there spots and a general burned up appearance?

I think you’re jumping on the grenade too quickly here. Glyphosate injury through root uptake is unpredictable, it works effectively through green tissue mostly. Transfer from grass roots to tree roots is even more unclear. Orchards and vineyards use glyphosate as a pre-emerge herbicide just as the trees are waking up–with almost no injuries reported.

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Im a little concerned this year since ive seen leaf curl on several trees because dicamba is so commonly used. Dicamba as we know is a selective herbicide used to control broadleaf weeds and woody plants aka fruit trees! Grasses are not impacted at all by dicamba but broadleaf weeds eg. Dandelion are killed.

Roundup ( glyphosate) generally does Not cause spots on leaves as per your photo .(( Copper may ?- don’t know ?)
Usually it shows it self as a yellowing on the new growth first.
And I would not think it would cause the leaves to fall so quickly.
The spots on the leaves look more like paraquat damage to me, ( but may be from your copper spray, ? Who knows what copper damage looks like. ? Comments? )
So I still think it is likely that you got some drift from that feild .
It seems that peach/ plum are very sensitive to glyphosate.
If you must spray herbicides, use a good sprayer nozzle , that gives a big droplet size, low presser , and Not when the wind is blowing. A ribbon tied on a high branch as a wind sock will show the wind.
Some rit dye in the sprayer and a white piece of paper will show how far the drift can be.
A wick application is safer


I was a dirt farmer many years ago and we used something like this boom sprayer

if a breeze comes up it will overspray things.they are meant to cover a field quickly

[picture from]