What can you do right now?
There is a whole list of noxious weeds that, in small batches, hand pulling right now is both possible and effective. Examples include spotted and diffuse knapweed, common tansy, hounds tongue, and tansy ragwort. In very small patches or new starts you can even try hand pulling ox-ey daisy, Russian knapweed, dalmation toadflax, St. Johnswort, meadow and orange hawkweed, and field bindweed.
For more information on each of these, there’s an excellent website called Weed Control Association. There is also some excellent materials that have been collected by the NFLA Weed Committee (Val Cox in particular) available at the Sondreson Community Hall. The next NFLA meeting is scheduled for 8PM on Sat. Sept. 6th. That would be a good time to pick up these materials.
If your weed problem is too large to hand pull, however, you might be considering spraying with a herbicide. Although spraying right now will not do any good, you can be getting ready for what’s called the “fall regrowth.” These are the warm, dry days right after the first hard frost. The frost stops flower production and the plants refocus their energy away from reproduction and towards growth. This means that what you spray on will be sucked down to the roots of the plants and have the greatest effect.
This doesn’t work for all noxious weeds. Following is a list of the most common, however, on which this fall effort will reap rewards: spotted and diffuse knapweed, leafy spurge, canada thistle, field bindweed, and tansy ragwort. Your largest weed problem might well also benefit even if it’s not on this list. You should check an authority (see below).
Getting ready for a fall spraying
There are several things you can do right now to get ready for a fall spraying. The most important thing would be to visit Linda at CHS in Kalispell and get a consultation on your weeds. She can tell you what equipment you need and what herbicide would work for your particular problem. Her number is (406) 755-7427 and the store is located at 55 4th Ave E N in Kalispell.
Here are some other suggestions:
- Did you know you can rent equipment cheap from the Flathead County Weeds Department? Three gallon backpack sprayers rent for $10 and may be used for two days. Five 100-gallon and one 200-gallon skid mounted sprayers rent for $25 Monday through Thursday. Check out all the details on this page. There is also equipment available for free in Polebridge. I believe that John Frederick has information on this. You can contact him at the NFPA website.
- Did you know that the ratio of herbicide to water is dependent on your equipment and your application? Now is a good time to do a careful calibration of your equipment and the Flathead County Weeds Department, again, has an excellent guide on how to do that. Download that guide from here.
- Do you know what a surfactant is? You add it to certain herbicides to help with their absorption in the plants. If a herbicide says to use a surfactant, then don’t skip it or you’ll be wasting your time and money on the spraying. Again, ask Linda at CHS all about surfactants.
- Have you ever used purple dye? This is something you add to the mix so that you can see where you’ve already sprayed. This saves time and money. It’s especially nice because you can see when you’ve gotten the spray on you or your equipment. It costs money, but you’re saving a lot, including your own skin, in the long run.
- Do you have to spray every year? No, but a single application isn’t sufficient for long term control. Depending on the severity of the infestation and type of weed, spraying is recommended for at least 2 to 3 consecutive years. After 3 years you should see a noticeable difference and native species will re-establish. Re-seeding bare areas will accelerate the process. Annual inspections and spot treatments should be conducted as many noxious weeds seeds remain viable in the ground for 10-15 years. Also, unfortunately, new noxious weeds will arrive on your property from equipment coming up the drive, friends visiting, and infestations that are bordering your place. It’s a fact of life on the North Fork that if you own property, the weeds will come.