During the past few weeks we have received calls from many of you about herbicides being offered for sale by persons who called you on the phone. In one instance the product name used was not listed in any references we have available and our university contacts had no information. Claims about the potential results from the product seemed too good to be true. Phone conversations with the seller ended with an offer to send printed information — none was ever received by me or the rancher.
In another situation, a rancher purchased product (phone order) after he was told what the herbicide would do and what rate to use. After applying the material and getting poor results he started to ask questions. The active ingredient was a common herbicide but the concentration was much less than that contained in the normal ag product lines and the label listed a much different rate of product than the "phone seller" had discussed.
This article is not meant to discourage purchasing products by phone. The purpose of this article is to provide guidelines. Remember this: the label (all containers must have one attached) is a legal document, but how will you prove what is expressed verbally if you are the only one hearing it? Before purchasing the product, determine the active ingredient and the concentration of that ingredient. Obtain a sample label and be sure the product is labeled for your intended use. You have no recourse if you use a product for any unlabeled purpose. In fact, you could have problems with a regulatory agency for misuse of certain products.
There are many sources of information to determine other products that contain the same active ingredient or are labeled for the same use. Extension Service personnel, other USDA agencies, reliable agricultural product dealers and Noble Research Institute specialists have reference materials available.
Many products, not just herbicides, are available for purchase and are often promoted by direct contact or by phone. If you want to be an "experiment station" and try unproven products, you must properly design your test, and I would encourage you to purchase very small quantities. Comparing one field to another or comparing production from different years is not likely to give you valid comparisons. Consult someone with research experience to help you design your test if you decide to compare products. Be an informed buyer.