Jefferson County area residents and farmers may need to be on the lookout for a new noxious weed in coming years.
Mitch Whitmill, head of the county noxious weeds department, said the aggressive and difficult-to-eradicate rush skeletonweed has started to make its way into the county. He told county commissioners July 18 that the weed had been found in three separate sites in the county.
“It is a perennial plant, and it’s fairly aggressive,” he said.
Whitmill said rush skeletonweed is prevalent in the western and central parts of the state but is not common yet in eastern Idaho. He said it is difficult to control, especially in crops.
“When it gets into the crop ground, the control methods with herbicides are products that will cause damage to the crop ground,” he said. “So you’re pretty limited as to what you can do as far as controlling that in crop ground.”
Whitmill said pulling rush skeletonweed from the ground or cutting them down will not work either.
“When you pull one, you’re going to have five new ones pop up from the rhizomes,” he said. “And then when you cut them down and mow them, they’ll continue to go to seed, so if you find one, bag it up, because even if you chop it off, it will go to full set seed within a couple days just from the nutrients in the plant.”
Because there are so few plants on the eastern side of the state and in Jefferson County, Whitmill said rush skeletonweed will be treated with Early Detection and Rapid Response. The weed is mostly leafless and has small yellow flowers that bloom for short periods of time.
Whitmill said people who see rush skeletonweed should contact the Jefferson County weed department immediately.
“We’ll treat it and eradicate it at no cost at this point,” he said.
The department can be reached at 208-745-9221.