The issue: Spring weed control
Spring is in the air. Nature hates bare ground and she started this carpet of green we now see last fall, when we weren’t looking.
Now is an excellent time to get started on your weed control program. Don’t wait until they are big and flowering. Perennial and biennial weeds are a bit more of a challenge, but if you can get the seedlings they are much easier to control.
Consider the different weed control tools you have in your toolbox.
Integrated pest management options:
· Prevention: Keep ditch banks free of seed-producing plants; clean all equipment and vehicles of weed chaff; feed weed-free hay; manage pastures for good competition; mow, fertilize and irrigate your lawn for a healthy grass.
· Mechanical: Digging and light tillage of young seedlings goes a long way to wiping them out. Many biennials are still in the rosette stage and digging 2 – 4 inches below the crown will take care of most of them.
· Mulches: Refresh organic mulches to at least three inches deep; be sure plastic and weed barrier mulches are still in good condition.
· Heat: A propane weed burner works well on broadleaf weed seedlings. Burning won’t kill established grasses, biennials and perennials.
· Biological: Some insects feed on the crown or rosettes of certain biennial weeds. These can help reduce the number of plants that go to seed.
· Chemical: Young plants are more susceptible to herbicides. Pre-emergent herbicides after tillage will reduce spring germination. Always read and follow herbicide label directions.
Most weed seeds can remain viable in the soil for many years—a long-term program is essential. Combine different IPM options over a period of years to help improve the effectiveness of your efforts.