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Thursday, June 1, 2023

Mechanical control misconceptions

By Ethan Proud
PREVIEW Columnist

Mechanical control of invasive species can result in a lot of blood, sweat and tears. Anyone who has looked over a field of musk thistle and decided to deadhead mature plants and dig rosettes can tell you this. When controlling annuals and biennials, you reap the rewards of your labor and see great results — especially if you replant natives. Hand-pulling creeping perennials is an entirely different story. They keep coming back and often it is more vigorously than before. Examples of creeping perennials are Canada thistle, leafy spurge, Russian knapweed and yellow toadflax — all of which are bountiful in Archuleta County.

Until you look at the biology of a plant, simply hand-pulling or mowing sounds like it’s a great idea and will effectively manage your invasive species. Upon taking a deeper dive into the science, often times one discovers that is can be a very bad idea. So, should you give up on pulling pesky plants from your garden or yard? The short answer is no, but there is much more to it.

When attempting to remove creeping perennials by hand, persistence is key. This is where the blood, sweat and tears come into play. These species can reproduce from root fragments less than an inch in length and the roots can go as deep as 15 feet. Everybody feels a sense of accomplishment when they pull a 4-foot section of bindweed root up, but in all actuality, that will increase the number of shoots on the surface. Frequent pulling can exhaust the root reserves of the plant if it is done religiously. A better method is to mow weekly or biweekly or to cut the plants at the surface. This ensures that you won’t have to deal with an ever growing patch of weeds while still exhausting the root reserve. 

For annuals and biennials, however, you can cut and pull to your heart’s content. Just remember to remove at least 2 to 4 inches of the root so the plant can’t regrow and a plant that has bloomed will die, so save yourself some time and only remove the seed heads. Remember this only works on annuals and biennials. 

Mechanical removal can also be paired with solarization, which is a better option for perennials. Lay a dark colored tarp over the infestation and the sun’s heat will cook the plants and seeds in the soil. This may take up to two seasons and the area should be rehabilitated by planting natives.

To get the best results, use a few different methods on your property such as chemical or biocontrol and disturb the soil as little as possible. Any time you dig into the ground seeds are brought to the surface and the first things to sprout are always weeds: both noxious and obnoxious.

Archuleta County Weed and Pest is your local resource for managing noxious weed populations and controlling other pests.

Archuleta County
Fair set for Aug. 5-8

Have you ever wanted to enter the Archuleta County Fair? Maybe you are a bread maker or you preserve food. Maybe you grow vegetables, crops or flowers. Would you like to show off your goods? It’s easy. Go to https://www.archuletacountyfair.com/ and look up the 2021 Fair book. The rules are on page 24. Judging will be Aug. 4. 

If you have further questions, please email archuletacountyfair@gmail.com. You could be the grand champion at the Archuleta County Fair. 

Calling all volunteers

The Archuleta County Fair Board needs your help. If you would like to volunteer during the county fair, please sign up at: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/30e0a4faea729a0fe3-fair3.

For more information on the Archuleta County Fair, please go to: www.archuletacountyfair.com, https://www.facebook.com/archuletacountyfair or email archuletacountyfair@gmail.com.

CPR and first aid classes

CPR and first aid certification classes are offered monthly by the CSU Extension office, generally on the second Monday and Wednesday of each month from 6 to 10 p.m. The cost for the classes is $80 for combined CPR/first aid and $55 for CPR, first aid or recertification. Call the Extension office at 246-5931 to register.

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