Thursday, June 30, 2016

Some products used in marijuana production fail to list pesticides

Hector Castro

Inspectors with WSDA’s pesticide and fertilizer compliance programs have found that 15 products commonly used in horticulture and hydroponics, including in marijuana production, contain undeclared pesticide chemical compounds in their ingredients.

An indoor marijuana production
operation in Washington.
As a result, WSDA has issued several “stop sale” orders and Notices of Corrections to the manufacturers and to the businesses that have been selling the products. WSDA will also work with the Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board on a joint notice to licensed marijuana production operations and retailers.

Samples tested 

On March 9 and 10, WSDA inspectors pulled 39 products from the shelves of four businesses in Clark and King counties to test them for the presence of pesticides. Testing has been completed on 27 of the products with more than half showing the presence of pesticides that were not declared on the label.

Two of the pesticide products are on the WSDA list of products allowed for use in marijuana production. However, their labels did not declare all the pesticide ingredients. Testing revealed both products contained pesticide ingredients not on the allowable use list. The products are now being removed from that list as a result of this testing.

The remaining 13 products tested were sold as fertilizers or plant washes, however, they were all found to contain pesticide ingredients. WSDA is awaiting results on another dozen products. The 15 products identified as including undisclosed pesticides include:

1. Safergro Mildew Cure for Powdery Mildew Control
2. SNS 217C All Natural Spider Mite Control Concentrate
3. Humboldt Roots
4. Olivia’s Cloning Gel
5. Optic Foliar AT-AK
6. Optic Foliar Overgrow
7. Optic Foliar Switch
8. Rock Resinator Heavy Yields
9. Root 66 1-1-1
10. The Hammer
11. Frost Protection Plus
12. NPK Mighty Wash
13. OG Rapid Flower + Hardener
14. Pyyro K 0-3-7
15. Vita Grow Thunder Boom

Next steps 

The manufacturers of these products will receive Notices of Correction in the coming days advising them of the test results and directing them to properly label their products so that all ingredients are disclosed. The “stop sale” notice will be mailed to the retail outlets where the products were found, directing them to stop distributing the products. Notification is also being sent to known wholesale distributors of these products.

The notice and list of products found with undisclosed pesticides is posted on the agency’s Pesticide and Fertilizer Use on Marijuana in Washington webpage.

In January, WSDA directed the removal of Guardian Mite Spray from store shelves after it, too, was found to include undisclosed pesticides among its ingredients.  Earlier this month, the Oregon Department of Agriculture issued a stop sale order for Mega Wash and Mighty Wash, two plant cleaners that were found to contain pesticides.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Scales and meters aren't only for gas pumps and grocery scales

Jerry Buendel
Weights & Measures

Commercial scales are inspected by WSDA Weights & Measures 
While consumers benefit greatly from WSDA’s Weights & Measures Program that ensures weighing and measuring devices are accurate, many might think only of the gas pumps we use to fill our cars or grocery scales weighing our meat and produce.

WSDA’s inspectors are trained to handle a wide range of weighing and measuring devices and have to think broader to assure a level playing field in Washington commerce. We are the agency that tests everything from sensitive scales weighing gold to railroad track car scales used to determine how much money changes hands.

Both buyers and sellers benefit when accurate devices are used to determine charges.

Last week, some of our inspectors used one of our heavy-capacity scale test trucks near Ellensburg to test vehicle scales operated by hay dealers in Kittitas County. The scales are used to weigh hay the dealers are buying from local growers, as well as ocean shipping containers going to overseas customers. Inspectors tested nine scales and found three that needed adjustment and repair. The businesses repaired scales the next day and WSDA’s inspectors issued an approval seal.

Hay and other commodities
Vehicle scales with capacities ranging up to 180,000 pounds are used to weigh trucks hauling tons of hay, sand and gravel, grain and other commodities. The inspectors use a 50,500-pound test truck for part of the test and also a 21,300-pound test cart to check each section of the scale.

Weight cart used to test scale performance
Generally, scales with errors more than 80 pounds are out of tolerance and must be repaired. In addition to accuracy, inspectors examine the weighing platform, vehicle approaches and overall condition of the equipment. Displays and printers are examined to assure that they are calculating properly and printing correct weight tickets.

Accurate scales are important for hay dealers and help them earn the trust and confidence of growers and customers. Weighing errors add up quickly as premium quality export hay sells for as much as $350 per ton. Washington’s hay is among the best in the world and is one of the state’s top agricultural commodities valued at $700 million annually in recent years. In 2015, more than $460 million in forage products were exported to foreign countries.

WSDA adopts national standards 
WSDA uses national accuracy and technical regulations published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Our inspectors complete specialized training and are required to pass national certification exams.

If you have a concern about a gas pump, scale or other weighing device, please email WSDA at or call 360 902-1857.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Spartina: remote areas are frontline for this invasive noxious weed

Communications Office

Preparations are well under way for WSDA and its partners to resume seasonal efforts to eradicate spartina, an aggressive noxious weed. Spartina destroys migratory shorebird and waterfowl habitat, converts mudflats into solid spartina meadows, and negatively impacts the state’s shellfish industry.

Amphibious tracked vehicle
Before crews can start to hit the mudflats, shorelines and bays, a lot of maintenance for vital specialty equipment takes place. The first months of the annual spartina treatment season, which runs from May to Nov. 30, involves hiring staff, ordering supplies, planning where and when cooperators will work and how to report detections and removal of spartina. It also includes safety training.

“We’re maintaining and repairing amphibious tracked vehicles, air boats and outboard powered boats,” says Chad Phillips, longtime spartina program coordinator for WSDA. “You definitely don’t want to break down in the remote areas we’re working in!”

WSDA lead agency

WSDA is the lead state agency for spartina eradication, facilitating the teamwork of local, state, federal and tribal governments; universities, interested groups; and private landowners. Partners run from the Department of Natural Resources, Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to The Nature Conservancy, local county weed boards and Ecology’s Puget Sound Corps crews. Multiple other groups are also involved.

Spartina marked with flag
The team approach has been successful. Spartina in 2003 infested 9,000 acres of Western Washington estuaries, particularly in Pacific County. Now, there remains an estimated nine acres spread mainly in the Puget Sound region, including in Skagit, Snohomish and Island counties.

Cooperators last year located and treated about 30,000 discrete finds of spartina plants. Once again, crews will search for new spots where spartina may have taken root, typically digging out small infestations and using approved herbicides when necessary on larger finds.

This year, we expect work crews to survey 80,000 acres of saltwater estuaries and 1,000 miles of shoreline in 12 counties. That’s 1,000 miles in often remote, difficult to reach terrain. Survey and eradication efforts will include Grays Harbor, Hood Canal, Willapa Bay, Puget Sound, the north and west sides of the Olympic Peninsula and at the mouth of the Columbia River.

Annual news release shows progress

Each spring we issue a news release on efforts to remove spartina from coastal counties. It’s sort of a report card on how the state is doing in locating and removing this aggressive weed. The trend to defeat spartina looks favorable as long as the state remains committed to continued spartina funding. Spartina could easily return and spread again if not kept in check.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Helping bats, helps agriculture

Hector Castro

Bats in Washington state need our help.

Recently, a bat infected with a deadly disease called white-nose syndrome was found near North Bend in King County. The disease, which is not a threat to people, pets or other animals, has been blamed for 6 million bat deaths in eastern North America since it was first detected in New York a decade ago, and its appearance in Washington is cause for concern.

Bats are an essential part of our state’s ecosystem, and they provide real benefit to farmers in the form of pest control. In fact, the pest control provided by bats is estimated at being worth a minimum of $3.7 billion to the American agriculture industry.

Our partners at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) estimate that a colony of bats can consume tons of insects that would otherwise attack crops and forest lands. Some species of bats also help disperse plant seeds and aid in pollination.

White-nose syndrome is a fungal disease that causes white, fuzzy fungus to grow on the nose, ears, and wings of an infected bat. It can damage wings and other skin tissue, as well as rouse bats from hibernation so they use fat reserves, leading to possible starvation and death. In Washington, there are 15 different species of bats and it’s not yet clear how many could be affected by this disease.

If you notice bat activity in your area, the WDFW would like to know.
  • If you spot a group of live bats, or a sick or dead bat, report it at or call WDFW at (360) 902-2515.
  • Don’t handle a live bat! If you must touch a dead bat, wear gloves for protection.
White-nose syndrome is primarily spread by bat-to-bat contact, but people can carry fungal spores on clothing, shoes or recreation equipment that has come in contact with the fungus. The WDFW offers the following recommendations to help control the spread of this disease:
  • Avoid areas where bats live to limit spreading the disease. Keep dogs out, too, since they may carry the fungus to new sites.
  • If you enter areas where bats are living, like crevices in rock cliffs, buildings, rock piles, caves or mines -- clean your gear and clothing when you leave
  • Reduce lighting around your home and minimize tree clearing to improve bat habitats.
You can visit for more information on white-nose syndrome and how you can help Washington’s bats.