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Liquid Copper Fungicide

Posted by brandon7 6b/7b TN (My Page) on
Thu, Feb 24, 11 at 15:48

A few years ago, Spruceman wrote a summary of his ideas about liquid copper fungicide as a possible aid in preventing rot in tree wounds. For some reason, that thread no long shows up in searches. I was actually able to go there, through my own direct link, and post to the thread, but the thread still doesn't show up in the forum, even when I refresh the page multiple times. It's weird. Anyway, here is a link to that thread for anyone searching for it in the future.

Here is a link that might be useful: Preventing Wood Rot in Trees--Liquid Copper Fungicide


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Liquid Copper Fungicide

Brandon:

Here is a summary of what is in my original post, with an update or two.

Many trees are seriously weakened and have their lives shortened by fungal rots entering the trunk. These fungal rots often enter where the bark has been knocked off the trunk and/or where there have been large pruning cuts. I have found that these fungal rot diseases are easily preventable with the use of a special liquid copper fungicide.

I have been using for about 25 years mixtures of "copper salts of fatty rosin acids." These used to be available in two popular brands of liquid copper fungicide--one by Dragon, and another by Bonide. Unfortunately these have both been discontinued and replaced by new formulas, one or two of which are called "copper soap." I have no idea whether these new products will work like the old as a fungal rot preventative on tree wounds. But one company I know of is still producing something similar to the products I used: SePRO offers something called "Camelot." There may be others.

Here is my informal data: About 25 years ago when I bought an addition to my timberland with plantations of pine and spruce. In areas where there were white pine, a good number of them had forks in the trunk fairly low down. These commonly split apart, so where I could, I cut one side off, leaving rather large ugly wounds. Some of these were 10 inches or more long and six or more inches wide. Without treatment, most of these had fungal infections in two years, and in four or five years would have obvious rot with softening/disintegration of the wood.

But those treated with liquid copper fungicide--and re-treated every year or two--have shown no sign of any rot or softening of the wood for as much as 25 years. Most of the cuts I made have been covered over by new wood by now, but a few are still open.

I applied the fungicide mixed with some water--maybe 3 parts water to one part fungicide--with a paintbrush. Concentrations of the essential ingredients vary and I did not attempt to standardize my applications.

This fungicide will not kill entrenched fungal infections, and will not work if the wound to the trunk goes down to the ground. It will not work in hollow trees. It has some mild toxicity to sapwood, so should not be over applied and/or allowed to pool in depressions. It is a surface treatment only. More is not better, and if too much is allowed to soak into cuts across the grain on small trees, the trees could be killed.

After I had success with the pine trees, I used it on a variety of other kinds of trees, including hardwoods. It has been successful in all cases.

Also, over time I realized that this fungicide worked to prevent bacterial rots as well as fungal rots. The wood on the surface of the cuts I made is as fresh and hard as they day they were cut after as much as 25 years.

I tried one or two other fungicides, including Captan. These did not work. Bordeaux mixture contains copper, but my experiments with it did not work. Maybe I did not mix it properly to get the powder thoroughly "wet," and after I found one tree infected after application, I stopped experimenting with it.

It would be great if someone at a university or who otherwise has access to reserach capabilities, could do follow-up research in some formal and controlled way to verify what I have observed and determine more exact application standards. We need to save more trees from the after-effects of injuries that open up paths for fungal diseases and other forms of wood rot.

--Spruce


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RE: Liquid Copper Fungicide

Hey Spruce, I added this to the other thread, but you may have not seen it...

"Soap" or "true soap" (found on the label of some other brands) is the exact same thing as "copper salts of fatty rosin acids" (like from the Dragon brand). Different brands may have different concentrations, but the different names for this ingredient don't indicate a difference.


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RE: Liquid Copper Fungicide

Thanks for the info, my mom has a tree that may need an application of this.


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RE: Liquid Copper Fungicide

Brandon:

Copper soap the same as copper salts of fatty rosin acids? Boy, I am confused. I had a fairly long talk with a guy at Dragon and discussed the change with him, and he never suggested that the ingredient was the same. Where did you get this information? Obviously I am intensely interested. I don't know who I talked to now--maybe he was completely ignorant about the old product, but he didn't let on. Maybe not that unusual. He mainly talked about how the new product was superior for the "on-label" applications, which I didn't have any use for.

Anyway, for my own use, I have 5 or 6 bottles of the old Dragon brand.

--Spruce


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RE: Liquid Copper Fungicide

On the product data sheets of at least a couple of LCF products, that information is given in various ways. Here's an example from Cueva Fungicide Concentrate:

"The copper and the fatty acid combine to form a copper salt of the fatty acid, known technically as a true soap."


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RE: Liquid Copper Fungicide

Brandon:

Obviously I need to do some research. I was very dissappointed when it seemed the product, at least the Bonnide and the Dragon--the readily available brands around here--were changed, and I was not in the mood to do any more experiments. But if a copper soap, or "true soap" is basically the same, we will be in luck and still have something we can use readily available. The "Camelot" product, as near as I could determine, is available only in Gallon size jars. Now one would have to have hundreds of trees and treat them for years to use up that much.

If it is just the concentration that is changed, then we can just dilute it less. I wouldn't want to just apply more, because then it could soak in deeper, and maybe do some harm. I see little danger with larger trees, unless one really goes crazy with it, but little ones, where the cut is across the grain and the fungicide can soak in deeply downward, I would be careful.

Anyway, I really appreciate your help clearing things up. It hurts my heart to see so many trees severely damaged by wood rots that could so easily be saved. Those old tree wound paints just didn't work, so a new approach is needed.

--Spruce


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RE: Liquid Copper Fungicide

I just looked at the labels of Camelot (5.14% metallic Cu equivalent) and Camelot O (1.8% metallic Cu equivalent). This may be the most important distinction between the two products. At the higher concentration, Camelot may indeed be more effective than the Cu soaps on the market today.


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RE: Liquid Copper Fungicide

patobrien:

I am still not sure exactly what a copper soap is. The Camelot brand is "copper salts of fatty rosin acids." Now I am not a chemist, so I don't know if this could be classified as a kind of copper soap.

Anyway, what I used for many years was a formula of the copper salts of fatty rosin acids, and this is what the Camelot brand is.

Brandon in a previoious post here said that the copper soap named as the ingredient in some new brands is the same as the copper salts of fatty rosin acids.

But when I looled up one site, e-how, on making one's own copper soap, the ingredients were "washing soda" and copper sulfate. I don't see how that leads to anything like copper salts of fatty rosin acids.

Anyway, I wish I could understand this better. If anyone is using the products that use "copper soap" have any results to report, I would be happy. I continue to use my old bottles of the former Dragon product. I have continued to observe results, and still no sign of any rot, whether fungal or bacterial, when applied to the kinds of wounds and in the concentrations I have described. A few of my originally treated sites, which were quite large, are still open, so my results now span up to 26 years!

This is, I am convinced, the answer to protecting trees from fungal and bacterial rots that enter trees through large pruning cuts or wood exposed when the bark is scraped or knocked off. Of course my earlier post gives more details.

--spruce


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RE: Liquid Copper Fungicide

Spruceman,

I'm not very familiar with various fungicide formulations, but perhaps I can help from a chemistry standpoint. Don't know how technical you want to get, but recall that a soap is a salt of a fatty acid, as you metion. Bordeaux is a mixture of copper sulfate, lime (calcium hydroxide) and water. In the copper soap product, the sulfate negative ion is replaced with a fatty acid anion. The addition of some grease to the salt gives it properties of a surfactant, which will allow better "stickiness" as well as penetration. In one example, Bonide 'Liquid Copper' is copper octanoate, octanoic acid is the fatty acid salt. Rosin is a obtained from conifers such as pine and contains the fatty acid abietic acid. The makers of the rosin formulation probably want to market it as more natural. Sounds organic, right? It comes from pines. The important thing is that they are both fatty acids. The newer formulations of copper soaps should perform similarly, once you correct for the copper concentration.

On to the e-how article. I found the article you mention and their formula will give you something very similar to Bordeaux. The lime (calcium hydroxide) has simply been replaced by 'washing soda' (sodium carbonate). This will not get you a surfactant, although the plant material getting treated will get a sodium exposure.

In other words, this is not a recipe for a copper soap, at least, not a 'true soap' (never heard that expression before). I don't know who writes these e-how articles, but I've noticed in the past that some are okay, others not so much. Below I'll attach a link for one that made me laugh out loud. Take a look and see if you can spot the reason why.

Alex

Here is a link that might be useful: E-how - how to grow a Norway spruce


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RE: Liquid Copper Fungicide

  • Posted by whaas 5a SE WI (My Page) on
    Tue, Mar 13, 12 at 22:21

I didn't even read the article...I just saw a pic of what looks like Pinus sylvestris.


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RE: Liquid Copper Fungicide

Don't worry whaas. Your tree knowledge will not be lacking for having missed this article! A true piece o crap.

+oM


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RE: Liquid Copper Fungicide

Oh my. E-how do you doo doo.

tj


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RE: Liquid Copper Fungicide

Alex:

Thanks a lot--that is exactly what I needed to know. I studied just a bit of chemistry, so I can understand the basics. What you explain is probably something I should have guessed, but sometimes terms like "soap" can be used rather loosely, so... But even if I understood "soap," I am not sure I would have understood from that the stickiness, which is something I took special note of with the older formulations. Once applied, it didn't easily wash off. But in my recommended application, I do say to refresh periodically. But without doing some careful experiments, I don't know just how necessary that is, or how often.

I wish someone would take an interest and do something--this offers a good research project for someone. Of course, the revered Dr. Shigo has such a following, research in protecting trees from wood rot is not getting the attention it deserves. Yes, some trees in some situations can, at least temproarily wall off wood rot, but anyone paying attention must notice the damage these rots do, and in my view, most of that damage--and early tree death--is preventable.

--Spruce


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RE: Liquid Copper Fungicide

Spruce, given the longish lifespans of most tree species, and considering much direct empirical evidence of very decayed vertical columns in hollow but healthy trees, it seems that preventing such decay is ultimately a means to prevent loss of value of wood in commodity production. And that's no small goal to reach for. In many woods, there is a preponderance of timber that from a lumberman's standpoint, is "over mature". The trees are healthy as can be, full crowns full of foliage, but they're hollow!

I think too that what you are describing is most applicable in the case of very large wounds. It has not been my experience that most trees in most cases have any great difficulty in closing wounds typical of the pruning process. But something like that double-trunked oak that somebody was asking us about, where fully one half the tree might need to be removed, would be an ideal candidate for the treatment. If it could indeed allow the tree a large amount of extra time to close that big wound before decay organisms gained a foothold, it would be quite worthwhile.

I do agree-somebody with the means should reopen the topic of wound dressings, with special attention to the copper delivery method as you describe. Just because the old tar-based stuff was eventually discredited, it does not necessarily follow that there is nothing that could be done along such lines.

+oM


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RE: Liquid Copper Fungicide

Tom:

Yes, you have it just about right. Most pruning cuts, such as those I imagine you do on healthy, fast growing trees along streets, don't USUALLY have a problem with rot entering (there can be some exceptions)--the "wound" can close relatively quickly. But when older and larger trees are pruned, the problem can be quite serious. I lived for a number or years in the Georgetown section of Washington, D.C. Some of the streets there are lined with old sugar maples. I would say that 4 out of 5 have "holes" in them where a large pruning cut was made. And I have seen a number of these trees break due to the rot inside.

Another problem, and sometimes worse, is were the bark has been knocked off the trunks. The susceptability of those wounds to rot is larger than with pruning cuts, where the branch collar can help wall off the infection. But, also, because there is no cross-grain exposure, the copper fungicide does not soak in so well and/or adhere so well, so more frequent applications are good.

Just one examp0le of an outstanding tree that should have been protected: About 30 years ago a new art museum was built on the Mall--the Hirshorn. Across from the museum, and next to the sculpture garden, was a very large old Bur oak. This tree was so spectacular that they did special landscaping around it to make it a kind of centerpiece of the area.

The tree was so wonderful they thought they would give it special attention, so they thought they would "improve" it by doing some pruning. They cut a number of large branches from the lower part of the crown, and did some thinning out from the interior of the crown. They left about 6 or 8 large pruning cuts. I watched through the years all of these become infected and develop into "holes." The whole structure of the tree was compromised, and they eventually had to remove it.

This tree was about 4 feet in diameter and had a wonderfully full and symetrical crown of large ascending branches. As fine a bur oak as one could ever hope to see. Now gone, and so unnecessarily so. It should have lived for another 100 years or more. Some of the pruning may have been a good idea, but the risk of rot entering was too great. When the pruning was done I did not yet know about the effectiveness of liquid copper fungicide, and later, the rot was already inside the tree, and it was too late. In any case, no one would have believed me and taken my advice if I had been able to recommend the treatment in time. Hence the need for university research

--spruce


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RE: Liquid Copper Fungicide

Full agreement Spruce. Indeed, some of those trunk dings can lead to especially severe decay patterns. We've got cars hitting trees all the time. Not much is being done in the way of "corrective" action. It's certainly conceivable that more should be done!

+oM


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RE: Liquid Copper Fungicide again

Full agreement Spruce. Indeed, some of those trunk dings can lead to especially severe decay patterns. We've got cars hitting trees all the time. Not much is being done in the way of "corrective" action. It's certainly conceivable that more should be done!

+oM


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