Monday, June 10, 2013

Weed control on a budget

When we bought this place, it was covered with Musk Thistle.  I waged a war with that devilish plant, using only a  hoe, and after several years I got them under control.  The former next-door neighbor did nothing with his thistles, and you can imagine my consternation when his thistles grew ten feet tall.  Each year the wind would waft their little dandelion-like seeds onto my place.  
The joke was on me.  Several years ago, for no apparent reason, the neighbor's thistles became fewer each year, finally disappearing.  Turns out some little bug was imported from someplace, a bug that lives in thistle flowers and eventually kills the thistles.  The neighbor, I'm sure, never knew what happened. He probably didn't even notice they were gone. 

Nowadays our main plant pest is this:
It invades our pasture and hay crop.  Mowing does little to discourage it.  There is quite a bit of this stuff growing in our hay, especially in the alfalfa-orchard grass patch.  Because the plant is so big, so thick-stalked, it doesn't cure at the same rate as the hay, and messes up spots in the bales.  Not to mention those thousands of seeds at the top of each plant that creates more such plants wherever we feed the hay.  
You can see how thick they are in places
I told Cliff that after he mowed, I would get out there and pick up as many as I could. He told me to pile them up and he'd take them to the ditch with the forks on the tractor.

This is one of four piles, placed on a bare spot where we fed the cows last winter.  

I was piling some weeds on the other side of the electric fence.  The horses came along and started picking through the pile, just in case I was tossing some good stuff their way.
I think I've done all the weed gathering I'm going to do for this season.  
I'm hoping some farmer will come along and tell me what the name of the weed is.  Cliff calls it horse-weed, but I know that isn't the proper name.  I went to Google images but didn't see anything exactly like my weed.  Dock looked vaguely similar.  Could it be dock?


Rita Mosquita said...

I think that is called dock. I am personally trying to figure it out and took a picture of some on a recent walk.

I think, not sure, that it was a weed that my grandparents picked and cooked like greens during the 30s in South Dakota when they were starving.

Marcia Lowry said...

I would say it's curly dock and it is edible to humans in "moderate" amounts - high in Vit. A but can cause kidney stones if over-consumed. We have it in our hay fields and pastures also in WY.

Margaret said...

I've never seen it before but certainly have many different varieties of weed around here. Smaller though!

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

I've seen that weed, but have never know what it is called. Weeds are a bother for sure. You really got your exercise picking them out. Glad anyway the hay got mowed.


My whole yard is full of weeds. That one doesn't look familiar. Hope you find out what it is.

Kathy said...

I think it's dock week as well Donna. I have found small sized plants in my flower bed this year (a first) and I am not sure if it's from the bird seed we feed during the winter or if it came with the new soil last spring.

Nice to see you blogging 'like your old self'. :)

Cliff said...
Farmers in this area call it dock or sour dock.
It is not a problem in tilled fields because of its perenial nature.
We have it in the farmstead area of our farm and lots where the horses are penned. I've found it controlled best in early spring with a strong solution of 2,4D in a little 2 gallon sprayer. Just hit the middle of each plant as it is beginning growth and that should do it. It will kill that plant for good and it won't reemerge the next year. It doesn't take much of this spot spraying to give the brome the advantage.

smcgraththird said...

I am a new goat farmer and I recently bought some orchard alfalfa that was loaded with this weed. My goats went crazy for this weed. They tear through the whole batch looking for this weed first. So sale your hay and advertise that goats love this stuff. I have been searching for the name in hopes of growing some for my goats. Thanks for the heads up!