What's the best dandelion killer?

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What's the best dandelion killer?

Postby thewizzer » Mon May 06, 2013 4:58 pm

I was hoping for some advice about the best standalone product available to kill the pesky dandelions in my yard. Here's my conundrum.

I personally don't like using chemical pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers on my lawn. I have a sloping lawn that leads directly to a sewer in front of my house, which in turn leads directly to the local river. I'm fine with letting the lawn go au naturel and simply keeping it well groomed by mowing and trimming.

My wife, on the other hand, has gotten on me recently about the large numbers of dandelions in the yard. She wants the yard to look more like the neighbor's pristine lawn. I've been able to bring her expectations down a bit by explaining the difficulties in maintaining a yard at that level and some of the downsides to millions of pounds of fertilizer and pesticides being sent downstream every year. However, I'm beginning to realize after eight years of marriage how true the phrase 'Happy wife, happy life' really is, so I've agreed to buy something to spot treat the dandelions in order to make it not so obviously apparently where the property line ends.

There seems to be a few different products available on the market that specifically target the dandelions (one of which is Ortho Weed be gone, for example). I was hoping that some wise bogleheads might offer their opinions on what has worked best for them. Is there a specific chemical cocktail that I should be looking for on the active ingredients list (or similarly, any that I should be wary of). BTW, I'm not that very interested in any homemade concoctions (other than maybe one of those weed burners, those look like fun :mrgreen: ).
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Re: What's the best dandelion killer?

Postby livesoft » Mon May 06, 2013 5:04 pm

I had to laugh because where I used to live, folks wanted dandelions in their lawns because of the flowers and fuzzballs. They were EVERYWHERE. They would not mow until flowering season was over.

A good weed-n-feed fertilizer will take care of them since they are a broad-leaf weed. Have you fertilized yet this year?
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Re: What's the best dandelion killer?

Postby Tortoise » Mon May 06, 2013 5:06 pm

Sunscreen, a wide brimmed hat, knee pads, and a dandelion digger tool work best. Get out there and dig them up, or pay a neighborhood kid to do it if you're not physically able. Just make sure the kid shows you the roots. Your neighbor with the pristine lawn will thank you.
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Re: What's the best dandelion killer?

Postby MnD » Mon May 06, 2013 5:13 pm

Spot spray just the dandelions with weed-b-gone in the morning on a day where rain is not forecast. You will not be sending it down the sewer to the river as most will be taken up by the plant and the small remainder will end up in and readily breaks down in soil as it has a fairly short half-life. To greatly reduce the amount applied and potential for runoff, spot-spray as opposed to using hose-end sprayers, commercial sprayer services and weed and feed fertilizers, all of which applies the herbicide to everything, not just to the weeds.
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Re: What's the best dandelion killer?

Postby thewizzer » Mon May 06, 2013 5:13 pm

Thanks for the quick replies.

I do have a dandelion digger that gets some use in the back yard. My wife and I just used it to clean up the mulched area around the swingset (I put my foot down, no chemicals where the kids play). It's a decent tool, but I'm looking for something a bit quicker and less labor intensive.

No weed and feed. I've used it in years past, but decided that it's not worth it anymore (my conscience gets in the way). And quite frankly, I'm not all that convinced that it did a whole lot other than making my grass grow faster, which made me need to cut it more. I left out the fact that a good portion of my yard is shaded by several mature trees. I can't even get the dandelions to grow under the maple trees, but that's another issue.
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Re: What's the best dandelion killer?

Postby retiredjg » Mon May 06, 2013 5:20 pm

I'd say spot spraying is probably the answer you are looking for. I understand you need to be careful it is not windy or going to get hot that day. If it gets above 85 degrees or so, the spray can re-vaporize and drift over onto your pretty flowers in the flower beds if you have them. Or so the instructions said last I read them....

I try to knock down the population using the digging tool and then spray. However, I'm not sure they don't just grow back in the spots I dug them out of. :(
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Re: What's the best dandelion killer?

Postby lwfitzge » Mon May 06, 2013 5:23 pm

just good ol weed n feed, e.g., Scott's, during early spring....
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Re: What's the best dandelion killer?

Postby stevewolfe » Mon May 06, 2013 5:59 pm

Classic weed puller works best in my opinion. Then you can just put regular lime and fertilizer down. Weed puller.
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Re: What's the best dandelion killer?

Postby soaring » Mon May 06, 2013 6:19 pm

Atrazine is specifically for broadleaf weeds. This is not to debate the use or no use of but just to pass along the info.

Some years ago Atrazine was available in 40% strength doses but now it has been cut by 10 to 4%. Still it is the best, that I know, to help with broadleaf weeds. Even then broadleaf weeds are difficult to control.
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Re: What's the best dandelion killer?

Postby 6miths » Mon May 06, 2013 6:22 pm

Spot spraying with 2,4 D while you walk around and then the next couple of times you cut the grass is a much more eco-friendly approach than broadcasting a granular weed'n'feed product. Getting down and digging them is best of all of course but time and energy intensive. Keep the grass cut fairly high to prevent new seeds from getting enough light to germinate. Good luck!
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Re: What's the best dandelion killer?

Postby tomd37 » Mon May 06, 2013 6:22 pm

What's the best dandelion killer? ---- A wife with (using) a portable weeding tool in her hand. :oops:
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Re: What's the best dandelion killer?

Postby rayout » Mon May 06, 2013 6:24 pm

A salad bowl :)
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Re: What's the best dandelion killer?

Postby Iorek » Mon May 06, 2013 6:25 pm

Early in the spring you can put down a corn gluten based preemergent (often combined with a fertilizer).
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Re: What's the best dandelion killer?

Postby jsl11 » Mon May 06, 2013 6:29 pm

Any of the broad leaf weed killers will work on dandelions. The active ingredient is 2,4,D. You can spot spray with a hand spray bottle. If you have a large area, and/or wish to cut costs, you can buy the same type of product in concentrated form. You add one tablespoon to a gallon of water and use a pump sprayer to spot spray the weeds. Once you buy the sprayer, each application costs very little. In either case, do not spray if rain is expected within 12 hours or so.
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Re: What's the best dandelion killer?

Postby jvclark02 » Mon May 06, 2013 6:42 pm

I use a small sponge fastened to the end of a stick. Moisten/saturate the sponge with weed killer and touch the leaves of the unwanted plant with the sponge. Not only very effective but significantly reduces amount of weed killer needed.

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Re: What's the best dandelion killer?

Postby WhyNotUs » Mon May 06, 2013 6:48 pm

You could always name it your town flower and learn about the many uses for it.

http://www.dandelionday.org
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Re: What's the best dandelion killer?

Postby otbricki » Mon May 06, 2013 7:01 pm

Best to use a spot herbicide in the fall when the dandelions are storing energy in the root for the next blooming cycle.

Applying herbicides in the spring is a lot less effective because the tops are what is actively growing. You are likely to kill the top but not the root.
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Re: What's the best dandelion killer?

Postby TheGreyingDuke » Mon May 06, 2013 7:07 pm

soaring wrote:Atrazine is specifically for broadleaf weeds. This is not to debate the use or no use of but just to pass along the info.


Yikes! http://www.nrdc.org/health/atrazine/
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Re: What's the best dandelion killer?

Postby livesoft » Mon May 06, 2013 7:28 pm

Atrazine appears to no longer be used in weed-n-feed products in our area.
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Re: What's the best dandelion killer?

Postby gwrvmd » Mon May 06, 2013 7:32 pm

Buy a book on making Dandelion Wine and an Asparagus Cutter. Wrap them together as a gift and leave them on the table for your wife. I hope your wife likes wine...Gordon
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Re: What's the best dandelion killer?

Postby thewizzer » Mon May 06, 2013 9:18 pm

gwrvmd wrote:Buy a book on making Dandelion Wine and an Asparagus Cutter. Wrap them together as a gift and leave them on the table for your wife. I hope your wife likes wine...Gordon


I've had dandelion wine. It could have easily been used to strip the paint off of old patio furniture. I had some fresh asparagus straight out of the garden earlier today, it was delicious :D

The wife does love wine, btw
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Re: What's the best dandelion killer?

Postby otbricki » Mon May 06, 2013 9:34 pm

Sounds like you married well.
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Re: What's the best dandelion killer?

Postby graveday » Mon May 06, 2013 10:52 pm

Salad.
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Re: What's the best dandelion killer?

Postby Mudpuppy » Tue May 07, 2013 12:12 am

I use a mix of a dandelion removal tool and spot treating with Weed B Gone, depending on how much time I have to deal with yard work. The removal tool won't work if you don't get the whole root (you'll know if you don't). If you use a removal tool, you might also want to sprinkle a little lawn seed in the bare spot, particularly if you've got a large dandelion or a patch of several dandelions.
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Re: What's the best dandelion killer?

Postby TRC » Tue May 07, 2013 5:40 am

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Re: What's the best dandelion killer?

Postby soaring » Tue May 07, 2013 6:12 am

livesoft wrote:Atrazine appears to no longer be used in weed-n-feed products in our area.


But it can be bought in liquid form to mix and use in sprayer. Concentrate use on area of need not broadcast.

http://www.domyownpestcontrol.com/hiyie ... 4AodrwgALQ
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Re: What's the best dandelion killer?

Postby sashwin » Tue May 07, 2013 6:53 am

I had the same conundrum as you, and I found this product Fiesta to work quite well. It claims to be greener than the other products:

http://fiestaweedkiller.com/

It definitely worked for me. The first time I used a little less, and while many weeds were gone, there were still a few left. The next time I applied more generously and it worked great.

I used this only when the weeds got too much out of control, because I had to take a break from weeding. Once this helps brings the weeds in control, aggressively choking them out by growing a lush lawn is the best defense.

I do have one of the weedburners as well. I suggest using a combination of techniques. Use Fiesta to get the majority out. Then in places where weeds have completely taken over, use the burner to eliminate. In others use the digger. Finally, in the various bare patches, put down compost mixed with lawn seed, and water regularly. Soon your lawn should look much better - at this point start using cornmeal regularly, coupled with organic compost, regular aeration, etc. Once the grass grows thick the weeds have a harder time taking root.

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Re: What's the best dandelion killer?

Postby rixer » Tue May 07, 2013 7:32 am

I use Weed-B-Gone in a garden hose applicator. It kills all broadleaf. I use it once a year in two applications a week apart.
The Scott's weed and feed was killing my lawn.
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Re: What's the best dandelion killer?

Postby Cottage » Tue May 07, 2013 7:42 am

Dandelions are actually a native plant species, and are an early nectar source for butterflies, etc. Please don't kill them off!

Investigate native plants for your yard - ultimately less work than trying to keep that golf course look, which is anything but natural!
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Re: What's the best dandelion killer?

Postby 6miths » Tue May 07, 2013 7:44 am

rixer wrote:I use Weed-B-Gone in a garden hose applicator. It kills all broadleaf. I use it once a year in two applications a week apart.
The Scott's weed and feed was killing my lawn.


Was your lawn plantain and dandelions? :D
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Re: What's the best dandelion killer?

Postby rixer » Tue May 07, 2013 9:20 am

6miths wrote:
rixer wrote:I use Weed-B-Gone in a garden hose applicator. It kills all broadleaf. I use it once a year in two applications a week apart.
The Scott's weed and feed was killing my lawn.


Was your lawn plantain and dandelions? :D


No, I think the heat in the valley plus the Scott's Weed & Feed does a number on my lawn. I quit using it and the lawn got greener.
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Re: What's the best dandelion killer?

Postby otbricki » Tue May 07, 2013 9:35 am

Cottage wrote:Dandelions are actually a native plant species, and are an early nectar source for butterflies, etc. Please don't kill them off!

Investigate native plants for your yard - ultimately less work than trying to keep that golf course look, which is anything but natural!


Dandelions are NOT native to North America. They are a horrid scuzzy invasive import. There is evidence they were brought over by Pilgrims on the Mayflower.
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Re: What's the best dandelion killer?

Postby Blues » Tue May 07, 2013 9:57 am

otbricki wrote:
Cottage wrote:Dandelions are actually a native plant species, and are an early nectar source for butterflies, etc. Please don't kill them off!

Investigate native plants for your yard - ultimately less work than trying to keep that golf course look, which is anything but natural!


Dandelions are NOT native to North America. They are a horrid scuzzy invasive import. There is evidence they were brought over by Pilgrims on the Mayflower.


Well, then I propose that they (as part of our national heritage) should be lauded along with the turkey and bald eagle and a toast given in their honor every Thanksgiving. :beer
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Re: What's the best dandelion killer?

Postby SpringMan » Tue May 07, 2013 10:38 am

Scott's Plus 2 actually works pretty good. Kills broad leaf weeds but unfortunately also kills the green in your wallet.
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Re: What's the best dandelion killer?

Postby guitarguy » Tue May 07, 2013 11:26 am

lwfitzge wrote:just good ol weed n feed, e.g., Scott's, during early spring....


+1. Easy, and not a dandelion in site in my yard.

For the record I'm very far from a perfect lawn kinda guy. As long as there are no dandelions I'm fairly happy. This stuff gets it done.
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Re: What's the best dandelion killer?

Postby DoWahDaddy » Tue May 07, 2013 12:07 pm

it's about 2 ft long and looks like this:

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Re: What's the best dandelion killer?

Postby EmergDoc » Tue May 07, 2013 1:48 pm

stevewolfe wrote:Classic weed puller works best in my opinion. Then you can just put regular lime and fertilizer down. Weed puller.


That's exactly what I use. Twice a week in the Spring I pull out 5 of 10 plants. It's nice of the dandelion to throw up those yellow flowers so they're easy to see.
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Re: What's the best dandelion killer?

Postby parsi1 » Tue May 07, 2013 2:02 pm

My wife loves Dandelion Tea. They are suppose to be good for you but not your wallet.
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Re: What's the best dandelion killer?

Postby frugaltype » Tue May 07, 2013 2:06 pm

Blues wrote:
otbricki wrote:
Cottage wrote:Dandelions are actually a native plant species, and are an early nectar source for butterflies, etc. Please don't kill them off!

Investigate native plants for your yard - ultimately less work than trying to keep that golf course look, which is anything but natural!


Dandelions are NOT native to North America. They are a horrid scuzzy invasive import. There is evidence they were brought over by Pilgrims on the Mayflower.


Well, then I propose that they (as part of our national heritage) should be lauded along with the turkey and bald eagle and a toast given in their honor every Thanksgiving. :beer


I looked this up. They are a nectar source for monarch butterflies, which are in big trouble due to loss of habitat. I like seeing a lot of yellow flowers in my lawn, now I have an additional reason to like them. I see no reason to call them scuzzy. It's not like they are driving out native plants.
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Re: What's the best dandelion killer?

Postby Frugal Al » Tue May 07, 2013 2:24 pm

It can be hard to get away from Scotts Miracle-Gro products, as ubiquitous as they are in turf and horticultural products (Hyponex, Osmacote, Ortho, Round Up to name a few). But after they knowingly put pesticide in their wild bird seed product I do my best to stay away from their brands--I'd rather pull weeds by hand. http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/grrls ... 2/mar/21/2
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Re: What's the best dandelion killer?

Postby rustymutt » Tue May 07, 2013 2:33 pm

2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid work well on large infestations.

I hand pick most years, but on occasion have used 24D with great results.
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Re: What's the best dandelion killer?

Postby AnimalCrackers » Tue May 07, 2013 2:39 pm

Iorek wrote:Early in the spring you can put down a corn gluten based preemergent (often combined with a fertilizer).


My understanding and experience is that maintaining thick, healthy turf grass is the best weed preventative (in turf grass areas).

I dig out by hand no more than about 25 dandelions per year. If I didn't want to do that, I'd spread 20 lbs/1,000 sq ft of corn gluten meal in the spring as a pre-emergent. It's often available in feed stores, which is where I buy my "fertilizer," cracked corn and soybean meal.

Best of luck.
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Re: What's the best dandelion killer?

Postby tadamsmar » Tue May 07, 2013 3:32 pm

Interesting topic.

This EPA brochure discusses the issue:

http://www.epa.gov/oppfead1/Publication ... caping.pdf

From skimming that, I would say the non-chemical approach is:

1. Manually remove the weeds before they go to seed.

2. Replace grass with some other ground cover or native vegetation that will grow well in the conditions with low maintenance.

3. Some combination of 1 and 2.

Having a healthy thick lawn does discourage weeds, but if you do it with chemical fertilizers that is not necessarily better than using 2,4-D. But the EPA brochure recommends slow-release natural fertilizers and maybe that will work.

Getting the PH down to 6.5 might help according to this site:

http://greennature.com/article2600.html

This implies that liming to get your soil above 6.5 would encourage dandelions.

The above site says that the roots can be up to 18 inches deep and need to be removed to prevent regrowth.

Lots more from the EPA:

http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/lawncare/

My approach is to keep the lawn healthy and apply fertilizer early (February in the Raliegh NC area) to give the grass a head start. I use 2,4D in weed and feed if I have a big investation. So, I don't have any real hands on experience with avoiding chemicals.
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Re: What's the best dandelion killer?

Postby bungalow10 » Tue May 07, 2013 3:37 pm

A fork.
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Re: What's the best dandelion killer?

Postby TRC » Tue May 07, 2013 7:34 pm

So I actually dug up several small bucket fulls of dandelions this afternoon. It's fast, easy, gets you outside, and is really easy to do. Took me know more than 2 hours and got most of them out of my yard. The weed digging tool is a must
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Re: What's the best dandelion killer?

Postby graveday » Wed May 08, 2013 12:04 am

At the risk of being abrasive, and in light of several attempts to educate about the highly successful evolutionary competitor, dandelion, I'll say that the best killer is stupidity.
Go spread your poisons. You will just help it succeed in the long run.
Otherwise, eat it.
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Re: What's the best dandelion killer?

Postby frugaltype » Wed May 08, 2013 8:15 am

So I looked up recipes, besides dandelion wine, and I'm not too fond of dark greens in general, there's dandelion pesto which sounds quite promising. These seem to be people using the young, not yet bitter, leaves in salads. Some people fry the flowers.

"This food is low in Saturated Fat, and very low in Cholesterol. It is also a good source of Folate, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Copper, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Vitamin K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Iron, Potassium and Manganese."

http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/veg ... cts/2441/2
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Re: What's the best dandelion killer?

Postby tadamsmar » Wed May 08, 2013 9:17 am

I am enjoying this thread. I plan to try some of the non-chemical suggestions.

The OP might want to do one (correctly planned) broadcast application of 2,4-D and then move to non-chemical means to control the relatively few that will reseed in the future, depending on his available time and inclinations and the practicalities of keeping the wife happy.
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Re: What's the best dandelion killer?

Postby otbricki » Wed May 08, 2013 9:38 am

frugaltype wrote:I looked this up. They are a nectar source for monarch butterflies, which are in big trouble due to loss of habitat. I like seeing a lot of yellow flowers in my lawn, now I have an additional reason to like them. I see no reason to call them scuzzy. It's not like they are driving out native plants.


For suburban home owners they are merely an aesthetic issue. In agriculture they are a major pest, considered to be a noxious weed that has a significant impact on crop yields.

The following article has some control suggestions:

http://pubs.aic.ca/doi/pdf/10.4141/P01-010
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Re: What's the best dandelion killer?

Postby graveday » Wed May 08, 2013 11:40 am

For suburban home owners they are merely an aesthetic issue. In agriculture they are a major pest, considered to be a noxious weed that has a significant impact on crop yields.

The following article has some control suggestions:

http://pubs.aic.ca/doi/pdf/10.4141/P01-010[/quote]

Actually, the article also pointed out a lot of good stuff about dandelions. I have not heard farmers in upstate California complain about it. We have other problems, star thistle, Canadian thistle, bull thistle, Johnson grass, etc. And in gardens the battle is more with yellow oxalis, watergrass, and bermuda grass.
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