Spray Damage on Young Hedgerows

Every May I get phone calls from farmers to say that their young hedges are looking a bit sickly and do I know what the problem might be. The answer is nearly always the same.

Young hawthorn plants are particularly sensitive to Glyphosate. It is very easy to catch a whole hedgerow when spraying off stubbles in the Autumn. Initially there is no sign of damage, it is only in the following Spring when the buds burst to produce distorted spiky leaves that the problem becomes apparent.

Glyphosate is a systemic herbicide, it may take 2 or 3 years before the Hawthorn finally dies, meanwhile, in a mixed hedge, other species such as Hazel and Field Maple may recover. The only remedy is to replant the Hawthorn at great expense.

A lot of spraying is now done by contractors who may not be aware of new hedges on a farm. They may also be in a hurry to complete the job. Please make sure that any spraying with Glyphosate upwind of a young hedge is only done under ideal spraying conditions.