The Label Is The Law October 19, 2018 By Steve Kammerer, regional director, Southeast Region

Fall is a good time to become familiar with new products and to look for label changes on older products.

Every fall, amid early order sales and incentive programs, there always seems to be new products or product changes that attract attention. Some new products might not contain new active ingredients. Instead, they might just have a new name, a new supplier, a new combination, a new formulation, a concentration change, or additives such as a nutrient or biological product. Fall is a good time to become familiar with new products and to look for label changes on older products. Among others, label changes that may occur from time to time include:

  • Pests controlled
  • Application rates
  • Required personal protective equipment
  • Use patterns
  • Application sites


Service is built into the price of every product, so don’t be afraid to ask questions. Before placing your orders, ask suppliers if any of the products you are planning to purchase have had label changes within the past year. Request a technical sheet or master label with all changes highlighted. Some labels are anywhere from a few pages to more than 20 pages long, so finding changes can be difficult unless someone can highlight them. Changes to a product or its labeled use may make it more or less desirable. Some issues to consider with new products or label changes include:

  • Has the formulation changed and affected use rates?
  • Has the product name or anything else changed?
  • Are there new active ingredients that present specific benefits or potential negative side effects?
  • Has the maximum per application or per year allowable rate changed?
  • Do label changes affect the application of other products?
  • Does a new product contain biostimulants or other additives that could affect performance and turf health?


The Food Quality Protection Act of 1996 required a reassessment of all registered pesticides, resulting in definitive changes especially with regard to the annual maximum allowable amounts of pesticides that can be applied to one site. This information can be found by searching for the chemical name and registration eligibility decision, then searching within the document for turf or golf. Some product labels are better than others at highlighting the maximum allowable amount of product that can be applied per year or per season. However, seasonal limits – especially for new combination products – can drastically affect the number of applications you can make of any one product or of other products with the same active ingredients.

Also, it is becoming popular for suppliers to differentiate post-patent chemical brands from generics by adding hormones, biostimulants or compounds that mimic hormones. Sometimes these additives can affect turf physiology but are not listed among the active ingredients. Request more information on new additives and consider how they will affect turf health and overall playing quality before committing to a new product.

Ultimately, the label is the law that golf courses are responsible for following. If you have any questions about a particular product, ask your supplier, a local university extension agent, or a USGA Agronomist for more information before you commit. There is no time like the present to get the information you need to prepare for next year.


Southeast Region Agronomists:

Chris Hartwiger, director, USGA Course Consulting Service –

Steve Kammerer, regional director –

Patrick M. O’Brien, agronomist –

Addison Barden, agronomist –

Information on the USGA’s Course Consulting Service

Contact the Green Section Staff

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