Flame weeding (also referred to as flaming) has been an apt option for organically ridding row crops and fields of uninvited weeds while also replenishing the soil with nutrients from the resulting carbon. Wedding the proficiency of flame with the compressed liquid power of propane has served many farmers and food producers well over the past century. According to the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticide, the first agricultural flame weeder was patented in 1852.
Flame weeding is done by generating intense heat through a chosen device — whether it is a handheld torch or tractor-mounted — that sears the leaves of the weeds, which causes the cell sap to expand, thusly damaging the cell walls. “You’re watching for the color change, depending on the weed and its maturity,” said Charles House of Earth & Sky Solutions. Leaves wilt and dehydrate the plant, leaving the invaders no other option than to die, sometimes up to three days later.
“The key to successful flame weeding is the maturity of the plant you’re trying to eradicate. The smaller, the better,” he explains. The best time is when they’re immature and in the cotyledon stage.
Flame Weeding Background
Flaming gained popularity in the first third of the 20th century and continued through the 1960s until pesticides replaced industry attentions. Though its use waned over the following 20 years, flame weeding resurfaced and regained popularity in the early 1990s, and continues to be used today. So continues flame weeding’s renaissance. Continue Reading →