Community Agriculture Alliance: Plan now for weed control next year |

Community Agriculture Alliance: Plan now for weed control next year

Gregory A. Brown
For Steamboat Pilot & Today

Another growing season is starting to slow down, but there are still good opportunities to control some of your weeds this season, especially a few of Routt County’s most notorious biennial — two year growth cycle — weeds:  Houndstongue, bull thistle, musk thistle and common mullein.

The rosettes, first season’s mat of leaves, are green and quite visible against the increasingly dormant background vegetation. Scout the land under your care and look for the rosettes. Skeletons, remnants of weeds from last season, are often a good place to start your search for new rosettes.

You don’t need to carry a sprayer or mix herbicides to control these plants, grab a shovel and head out to get a jump on next season’s weeds.  Dig each rosette, making sure to get at least 4 inches of the tap root, because if you cut the root too shallow the remaining upper tissues contain enough meristematic cells to regenerate a new shoot. 

With the good moisture we have had recently, the digging should be relatively easy.  The cut weeds can be left in place to decompose and may help next year to mark areas where weeds can be anticipated. This is only applicable if no seeds are present. 

While you are out, take along a garbage bag and place any standing mature plants with seeds or mature flowers heads in the bag, taking care not to dislodge the burs of houndstongue which cling to everything or release the seeds of the other weeds.  This helps to remove a significant standing seed bank which gets picked up by us, our dogs and every other four legged critter roaming the landscape. 

A little time spent right now can reduce your labors next year and increase your knowledge on where to focus at least some of next year’s weed control efforts.

When you have scouted your landscape, you have the information you need to prepare a plan, not just for next year, but for several years to come.  Begin your plan by identifying the weeds of concern and mapping their locations. 

If your phone or tablet has a GPS application you can identify exact locations and generate electronic maps.  It’s equally useful to draw a map of your property and locate the weeds on it, increasing the accuracy by making note of features in the landscape important to you.  

When you know your weeds and where they are located you can makes plans for their control.  Sometimes a shovel and diligent effort and monitoring is all you need.  Often times, herbicides will need to be part of the control strategy, especially if your weeds include rhizomatous perennials like Canadian thistle, whitetop or yellow toadflax. 

Match the weed to the herbicide, since there is no one perfect chemical for all weeds. The county weed supervisor can help you choose among the control options and develop an integrated weed management plan specific to your situation. 

The Routt County Weed Program is planning to offer a weed management course from early February through mid-March in 2020.  If you have questions about identifying weeds, choosing appropriate controls or signing up for the weed class, contact the Routt County Weed Program at 970-870-5246 and or CSU/Routt County Extension at 970-879-0825 or

Gregory A. Brown is the supervisor for Routt County Weed Program.

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