Do Flame Weeders Work?
Fire can wreak havoc in many ways. When controlled, it can be used for good -- and has for hundreds of years. Prior to herbicides and insecticides, flaming was fast becoming a popular control method in many crops. With so many growers seeking alternatives to pesticides, flaming is making a very successful comeback.
So, how can we use it today? Flame Engineering has manufactured propane weed torches since the 60's (in a garage!) and quickly grew to a plant employing 30+ workers in the small town of La Crosse, KS. Flame has refined the design of private use propane torches for weed control in the homeowners yard and garden -- expanding to large landscape, crop, and vineyard applicators
So, does it work?
In short, yep!
When flame weeding, the most effective method is to catch weeds early, from 1-4 inches. At this small stage, flaming is nearly 100% effective at killing weeds, whereas weeds over 4 inches are more difficult to kill without multiple flamings.
You do not want to burn weeds to ash! On smaller weeds, a slow walk is usually the best pace - just a split second of heat should kill unwanted weeds and grasses completely - you don't need to burn them to a crisp. By nature, some grasses will return following a flaming. Repeat applications, however, will usually do the trick. For best results, increase exposure to the heat if weeds are wet from dew. Water on the leaves acts as insulation and decreases cell damage unless exposure time is increased. Note: it is ok to flame when it is wet out. In fact, we recommend it. Moisture will lessen the threat of ignition of dry debris.
Flame weeding is what we like to call a "slow kill". Essentially, you are destroying cell structure in the plant leaf. The weed will no longer put energy toward growth (photosynthesis) taking the kill though the root system. YES, flame weeding will kill the roots too! Even on big weeds (over 6"), you will see a stunting effect and even a kill within a few days, depending on how established the root system is and how long the plant was exposed to heat. Again, multiple application may be necessary for well-established pants. When you see green - flame!
It is important to remember when flaming in and around desirable plants that heating those leaves can cause damage as well. Flame is not like a broadleaf herbicide in that it will only kill the weeds. Fire does not know the difference between desirable flowers and undesirable weeds. Thus, be careful around flowers and shrubs - particularly evergreens. Conifers are very flammable and should be avoided at all costs! Poison ivy, oak or any poisonous plant should be avoided also- the vapor/smoke from flamed leaves will cause a rash to your skin, eyes, and lungs! Yuck!
What's the best advice we can give you? If in doubt, don't. Always allow a safe distance between the flame and desirable plants, shrubs and trees. Always keep a fire extinguisher and water supply close in case of an emergency. Contact your local city or fire department to see if it safe to run a flame weeder in your area.
While there are foreign competitors out there, Flame Engineering's Red Dragon® and Weed Dragon® lines of torches are the ONLY certified Made in the USA torches will all materials either made in the USA or sourced domestically.
Weed burning torches kill unwanted weeds and grasses, break down old growth to make room for new and provide safe & effective control without the use of pesticides. . . . and this time, we're here to stay.
FLAMING: Effective, Economical, and Pesticide Free!
- Sarah Nattier