Weeds, Weeds, Weeds

— Written By Peg Godwin and last updated by
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Are you experiencing the influx of weeds? Floodwaters have carried and deposited millions of weed seeds into new areas. Eroded soil has also carried and deposited particular weed seeds that do not mind being submerged. Weed seeds have germinated and become established while we have been busy recovering from the storm. The constant soil moisture experienced during and after the storm have resulted in rapid weed seed germination. Establishment of the weeds has been enhanced by fertile waste water from several treatment plants. They have grown rapidly. Our new task is to try to control the weeds so new seeds are not formed for future generations.

The term weed seed bank is used to describe the reserve of viable weed seeds present on the soil surface and scattered throughout the soil profile. It includes both new weed seeds and older seeds that have persisted in the soil from previous years. Some persistent perennial weeds are reproduced by tubers, bulbs, rhizomes and other vegetative structures. Therefore, the soil’s weed seed bank also includes them. A square foot of agricultural soil can contain thousands of weed seeds and more than a dozen vegetative weed propagules.

The weed seed bank serves as a physical history of the past. The best approach to reduce weed competition in the future is to stop the deposits made into the weed seed bank.

Sites that were relatively weed-free before the flood, may have an increased weed seed load from flood waters or silt. They may definitely require a more aggressive weed management program in the coming year. Different species of weeds have likely been introduced and will probably require changes in control methods to be effective. Check frequently for new weeds and work to control them before they can spread.

Plants set seed after flowering. When you find weeds beginning to flower, it is important to go ahead and kill the weed before pollination and seed set takes place.

Cultivation can control weeds by as much as 80 percent depending on equipment, soil conditions, the stage of the weed and the experience of the operator. Selective herbicides can remove heavy weed populations. Emerged weeds can be controlled with postemergence herbicides. Seedlings can be controlled with contact-type herbicides. If treatments are delayed a systemic herbicide may work better. Many trained professionals combine postemergence with preemergence herbicides to improve weed control and to be more time-efficient.

Remember there are often 20 to 50 different weed species in a single area with diverse longevity, period of germination, dormancy, season of emergence, depth from which they emerge, as well as chilling period. Each has unique responses to light, cultivation, water, soil temperature, fertility, and aeration.

Weed seeds are survivors. It is not possible to eliminate all the weeds in your soil in a lifetime but you can certainly diminish the numbers with some effort.