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What Is Killing These Fruit Trees?

cherry tree

We are deep in the heart of farm country around these parts. With corn fields surrounding our property, it’s very hard to grow food without pesticides creeping in, but still we try. But when the trees we planted on our property line start dying the day after the aerial crop sprayer goes over, I get angry.

We planted pine trees on the edge of our property, in hopes of filtering out any pesticides from the corn fields next to us, and that seemed to work. The pine trees were 50 feet from the corn field ten years ago, and they did well, growing full enough to create a hedge row border. Soon, the trees were ten feet tall, and we couldn’t even see the corn field, so we stepped back another 50 feet and planted our fruit trees.

We planted three pear trees, three apple trees, two plum trees, and two cherry trees. We also put up three trellises for berries. I hauled buckets of water to all those trees for a whole year, and by the second year, they had all taken root and were growing well. By the third year we started seeing fruit, and soon we were canning fruit. Our plan to be self-supporting was starting to pay off.

But I noticed the corn field getting closer and closer to the fence dividing our property each year, until one day a few years ago the fence was torn out by plows. It wasn’t my fence, so I had no control over that, but they were creeping right up on our pine trees. I was annoyed, but I did not expect what would happen next.

A Complete Guide to Growing Fruits and Nuts in the Home Garden

Last year just after the crop duster came through, both our pear trees lost all their leaves. Our big, beautiful pear trees declined in health quickly and died by fall. I called my farmer neighbor, and he assured me that nothing the crop duster sprayed could possibly kill my pear trees. My wife had just mulched around the trees, clipping off all the suckers and using our own natural compost. She thought she might have killed the pear trees with what she did, and it made her feel terrible. We are in our 50s and expected those trees to bear fruit until long after we are gone.

dead treesThis year we planted new pear trees, and they were doing great. We also had a bumper crop from our cherry and plum trees. Then it happened. I heard the crop duster go over our house, not 50 feet off our roof. Two days later, almost every leave on our cherry trees turned yellow, and within a week the tree was almost completely bare of leaves. Our brand new pear trees also showed signs of stress, with one or two branches dying on each tree. Now I’m angry.

If these pesticides will kill our trees, what are they doing to my wife and kids? My first inclination was to call the Department of Conservation, just to confirm what had happened and bring light to this terrible act. When I called, the DNR said they were very busy but assured me it must have been something we did, because the government had tested all pesticides, and they would never allow crop dusters to spray something that would kill trees. That was when I realized we were on our own here.

I ask you, Off The Gridders, what should we do? Surely there is something, some recourse. Short of putting up a bubble around our property, how do we keep these pesticides out of our land, out of our drinking water, and off our garden? I am at a loss. Do we re-plant in another 50 feet? Why should I have to give up 50 feet of my ground just because the farmer wants corn right to the edge of his property? I want to go pour kerosene on his corn, but surely that would get me locked up. So, why isn’t my farmer neighbor being locked up for killing my trees? I have no answers, and I am frustrated. If anyone out there can help me, please respond in kind. Have a great week, Off The Gridders, and thank you for allowing me to vent.


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  1. I would think that if you document the degradation of your trees with photos, videos, and written observations with dates and it’s clear there is a relationship between the crop duster and the death of your trees, you may have some sort of standing to sue.

    This is the approach I would likely follow since the damage to your trees, and your resultant expense and livlihood, is apparent. You might consider talking to an attorney who specializes in environmental litigation.

  2. I’d do as whippoorwill said, get an attorney with strong convictions in environmental issues.

  3. But you also want fruit trees, so you’ll also replant. Do you think it might help to hose down the trees and fruit vines right after you see the crop duster? Might help; probably won’t hurt. (Too bad that it’s not like an animal on your property killing livestock, because then you could shoot it!) And, as the others have said, talk to an attorney. Since your neighbor plants corn right up to the property line, the crop duster probably does release his chemicals over your property in order to completely cover the corn crop.

  4. I would attempt to find our who is the crop duster, contact them and find out what they are spraying see if you can get a list of the chemicals and or Material Safety Data sheet that comes with the chemical, and go from there. The Material Safety Data sheet will list all the ingredients of the product safety measure, precautions proper usage, health concerns if you come into contact with it etc. See if you can get one for every chemical they are spraying. Maybe ask them to approach the field from another direction not over your property and after you get all the information you can from them you might casually mention upon leaving to hanging up the phone that you are considering consulting with an attorney about what to do about your loss of crops and your concern for your families health, after all if your spray is killing my trees what might it be doing to your family.

  5. The DNR said the government had tested all pesticides? Fine, doesn’t that suggest that something illegal might be in the tanks? Stupid DNR can’t even think outside the toxic box. I wouldn’t mention your intention to take legal action. If they are doing anything illegal, such as using illegal chemicals, they will take measures to sanitize their operation and possibly wash away all the evidence.

    I would collect evidence by gathering cuttings from my trees. I suppose there is a scientific approach to this, so I would get advice from someone on how to collect the samples, such as using sterilized vials and marking them with date/time/location. Samples will likely need to be taken at various distances from the propterty line and may include samples taken from across your entire property as well as samples taken from the neighbor’s fields for comparison purposes. You might even attempt to gather samples from the crop duster on the day of the spray. Aircraft all have registration numbers on them, so you should be able to track it down. It will likely be stationed at a grass-strip airfield out in the country, and these have little to no security, so you should be able to gain access without too much trouble.

    This is not a cheap investigation, as each sample will need to be tested. Maybe there is an environmental studies program at a local college that would make a class project out of this investigation, but I’m not sure if that would hold up in court, if the students aren’t “certified” or whatever. Seek legal advice to ensure that all your hard work is admissible in a court of law.

    The final solution, however, would likely be to sell your property and seek new land that is not anywhere near farmland.

    • I just remembered that my brother asked the farmers near him to provide their crop spraying schedule, so he could make sure his kids wouldn’t be playing outside on the day of the spray. You can see why you might not want to bring up legal actions right away, because if you do, you will get no cooperation at all. Knowing the spraying schedule will allow you to be prepared for collection of samples. You might prepare some staged sample collection sites. Again, get help from a specialist, but it seems to me that you could place stakes with little platforms on top of them that have collection media on them. If this were, say, sheets of 8″x11″ paper (or whatever size labratory media might be), you could get an idea of the amount of chemical per square inch/foot that reaches your property.

  6. If they are spraying corn, there is a good chance that they are spraying far more than “pesticide”. 80% of the corn grown today is “Round-up Ready” genetically modified corn, that is genetically modified to withstand Monsanto’s chemical Roundup which is an herbicide that is used to kill weeds in among corn rows. If they are growing Roundup Ready corn, they most certainly are using Roundup to kill the weeds, and if you don’t see the farmer out there spraying from his tractor, or doing it by hand, I would bet that he is using the crop duster to lay down Roundup on his corn.

    The herbicide Roundup will certainly kill your fruit trees…

    If the guy is flying in over your house as an approach to the corn, you might want to consider erecting something tall in the flight path, like a windmill, a ham radio tower, or some weather balloons on tethers. Maybe he will take a different path, because if he does not, it would probably ruin his day.

    Of course as an alternative, you might be able to pick up an army surplus anti-aircraft gun too.

  7. I agree with Survivalist Gardener. Most likely Round Up. I would meet and contact the neighbor. Who if you are a good survivalist you should already know and possibly already have a barter relationship with, Not that I would ever eat his GMO corn! I would ask if the duster is using Round UP and mention those pass bys are covering your property as well and that you need to know when it will happen to be able to protect your trees. You will have to cover with plastic or canvas tarps the trees and under canopy over the roots on the day of the spraying. Right after the plane finishes you will need to lightly rinse the tarps with water removing the chemical off the top covers first. Once the rinse finishing dripping off the top tarps take them down making sure the run off goes to the out most range of the under side tarps. Try to remove the ground tarps with as little run off directly under the trees as possible. Get rid of the runoff like you would any hazardous waste water to the proper disposal locations and rinse the ground around the trees as much as possible to dilute the round up. With luck you will have caught most the the spray from contact with the leaves, the most effective method of Round ups killing power and diluted the rest as much as possible. Good Luck.

  8. Thanks everyone for the advice, I have a conservation agent from the state capitol coming over this week to help me see if i am right about the crop duster, mean time I will also talk to my neighbor, don’t need to alienate him, we love where we are living, moving is not an option. Just concerned for my family’s health.

  9. if they were spaying Roundup or a dessicant (depending on the time of year), they would have definitely been the cause of your fruit trees dying. Roundup is only safe for evergreens

  10. Dear Sir (and Madam),

    I agree with all the ideas posted by everyone above. Every person had good ideas. I am a master gardener, organic farmer/rancher from Texas. Besides taking all the above advice and trying to get evidence, I would try a few other things. Of course, you might want to get your evidence first before doing these things. I would be using Azomite and/or seaweed extract on my trees. Making a mix of Azomite, compost tea and clean water, I would spray my trees after rinsing them after the crop duster goes by. If you cannot use these solutions full strength due to cost- not cheap, you can make a 1:100 homeopathic dilution and use that. Even using a homeopathic dilution of compost tea and Azomite and sprinkling it in a circle three feet from the trunk and all around the edges of the drip lines, I was able to save all my trees after “our gov’t.” or the gov’t. inside the gov’t inside the gov’t, yes three layers of gov’t, not a typo, sprayed white fibers from the sky that looked like spider webs all over the land and fences, but were NOT! Two days after the white fibers were dropped during the night from the sky, the tops of my mesquite and cedar trees had all the tops of their canopy turn pale beige and then dropped off. I feared I would lose every single tree. I was almost out of Azomite and compost tea, so did a homeopathic dilution and prayed very hard and blessed the trees. Three days after losing their top leaves, new growth was coming back on the trees. I saved every single tree.

    Another thing one can do is to check out how to build a modified cloudbuster or chembuster. These have to be fenced to keep children and animals from touching them accidentally because they build up a large static electric charge that can hurt you fairly badly. Once you have made one, use super thick rubber gloves to handle them. You can turn them off by laying them down on their side rather than upright. These will cleanse the air and act like antennas to attract soft rainfall. It is good to place one on the ground near a large, healthy tree and run steel or copper grounding wires off the metal pipe into a pool of water or baby wading plastic pool, at least five feet across. Wear rubber gloves when attaching the grounding wire if you don’t want a good shock. Another thing you can do is try to educate your neighbor about how organic food sells better at many supermarkets and tastes better, too. Or you could sell and start over somewhere else. Many blessings, Katy

  11. If they are spraying round up, you can just spray down the trees with water right after they stop spraying. water will wash most of the round up off and minimize damage to your trees. yes, it sucks to wash all that into the soil but it only hurts the trees most when it gets on the leaves.

  12. Shoot the f****r out of his Monsanto sky. Use large caliber bullets and give a proper lead on the aim. When he falls down, feed him to the bears, and sell his no-good crop duster for scrap.

  13. Hi,
    Me and my family have been left in neer poverty because of roundup. When it first came onto the market about 20years ago we were advised to spray the pestiside around all our fruit trees by a professional representative of Monsanto allong with published written instructions and guarantees on the performance of this new productuct.. we used it on all our trees on our farm in south africa.
    All our trees started dying.
    We had to remove all our trees. Sell two of our 3 farms. We made a case that is open case.
    We cannot take them to court because we do not have the financial means.
    We are one of 7 families of farmers that were destroyed by monsanto. With open cases against them.

    We have everything we beed with extremely detailed lab test, photo and video evidence allong with statements from 3 different professors who conducted detailed test.

    When a reprentative came to our farm to see what the product had done, they came they looked and just said: “so what do u want me to do about it” and left…

    All I need is to find similar cases against monsanto where fruit trees were killed by round up and monsanto has been taken to court and where the farmers have won.
    We have approached a financing agency and waiting for the verdict all we need or want to give them is past cases that are similar.

    If anyone can help I would appreciate it with everything I am.

    Thank you,

  14. I urge you to talk to a real estate attorney or if all else fails the extension office in your county. In Indiana a property line fence is the responsibility of parties. If one party refuses to do their half or fork over the bucks to have it done the other property owner has grounds to submit one half of the bill to the county, It is not uncommon for the fence fee to be added to the individuals property tax.

  15. I would focus on what it is doing to your drinking water, the air you breathe, your family, your dogs, cats, chickens etc. You need Erin Brockovich!!

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