Speaking of weed control…

Are you considering weed control this fall? Be sure to read and follow all labels carefully! The label is the law, and applying a pesticide in a way that goes against the label puts you in direct violation. If a product is labeled for a specific pest but not for the  location that you are applying it, then you are off label.

To help you think about how you handle and apply your pesticides and your own pesticide exposure, here is a video from the University of Nebraska Lincoln Extension regarding pesticide safety:

 

To determine what the correct pesticide is for a specific pest and location contact your local weed and pest office or county extension educator. Another great resource is the www.cdms.net. To use this tool, go to the top and select serviceslabels/msds, then select other search options on the left. It will ask you to create a free account. After you have created an account, you will be able to search pesticides by product name, common name, type, crop site, pest, manufacture, state, or a combination of the above. This can help you identify a list of pesticides labeled for use in the location and against the pest that you are targeting. You will also know that it is labeled for use in your state.

2015 Guide for Weed Management
2015 Guide for Weed Management

Another great resource is the Guide for Weed Management in Nebraska. The 2015 edition is available for preorder for $15 plus shipping. We also have the 2014 edition available in our office for $10.

If you are considering the use of any restricted use pesticides be sure to obtain your private pesticide applicators license. There are 3 ways to obtain this license.

  • Go to your local Extension Office and take the online exam or obtain the take home test
  • Attend one of the many private applicator training’s that are offered by UW Extension Educators across the state

These classes are typically offered in January through March and to find one near you go to http://bit.ly/psepcalendar.  For more information on pesticide applicator license requirements or anything related to regulations regarding pesticide application please see http://bit.ly/psepwyo. Or for more information call Caleb at the Goshen County Extension Office at (307) 532-2436 or at ccarte13@uwyo.edu.

Extension Tidbits Winter Gardening Series

You are probably thinking that with fall around the corner and the growing season quickly coming to an end… that you are off the hook in the garden. Well, think again! Now is the time to begin preparations for next year. And to start thinking about how you are going to deal with those weeds you saw popping up this year after all the rain we had. Maybe you are thinking about a new tree or getting a head start on spring by starting seeds indoors?

If any of this sounds interesting, then don’t miss the new series beginning next Wednesday, October 15th. The format will still be a brown bag seminar but will only meet once a month, allowing for more seasonally relevant topics. It will take place from noon to 1 pm, at the extension office, with the presentation running from 12:15 to 12:45 pm, leaving time for socializing and questions.

The first topic will be “fall garden cleanup” presented by Gretchen Wollert, owner of Pleasant Valley Greenhouse in Torrington. She will share tips on what we can do now to make it easier to get planting in the spring. The next meeting will be Wednesday, November 19th and then every 2nd Wednesday through April. Other topics will include tree selection and care, holiday plants, starting plants from seed, organic production and weed control. The series will wrap up with a stump the experts hour on April 8th!

Winter Gardening Series

There is no cost for the sessions. Participants can come to any or all sessions and are encouraged to bring a lunch and an interest in making things grow! With questions or for more information, please contact Caleb Carter at the Goshen County Extension Office at (307) 532-2436.

Fall weed control: a step ahead in the spring

Canada thistle
Canada thistle – Bill Johnson, nps.gov

Did you experience a flush of new and/or more aggressive weeds this summer? You are not alone. The increase in moisture we received this year was a blessing for our productions, but also an increase in weeds as well as some new weeds we haven’t seen in a while. Many of these are perennials and biennials, and fall is a good time to control these persistent  weeds.

It is important to understand their biology, in order to use their own strategy against them. As the weather cools, perennial weeds begin storing carbohydrates in their roots. Herbicides applied at this time will also be taken into the root stores. Some perennials are more sensitive to frost than others, making timing the most important consideration in fall weed control. Be sure to read all labels carefully to determine the best application time for each weed species and location.

Biennial weeds have a two year growth cycle. Spending the first year in a vegetative growth stage and then in the second year bolting and flowering. They are most susceptible in the vegetative growth stage. Both perennials and biennials are prolific seed producers and preventing seed production as well as depleting root food stores can go a long way in controlling them. This can come in the form of tillage, mowing, etc. Herbicide treatments can also be a good control measure.

Following is a small selection of common perennial and biennial weeds to think about controlling this fall.

Perennial weeds

Canada thistle

Canada thistle has extensive root stores, and good control can only be achieved by depleting them. Tillage only makes more plants as each root shoot can regenerate a new plant. Mowing or other mechanical removal can help prevent seed production and deplete root stores. Good control can also be achieved by using glyphosate (Roundup) at the bud to bloom stage. Canada thistle is able to withstand light frosts, so a late fall application of picloram (Tordon) can also provide good control, ensuring more herbicide gets into the roots. For more information on Canada thistle control.

Field bindweed

Field bindweed is a very persistent weed. Control measures must be even more persistent to get ahead of it. For best results incorporate a combination of cultivation, selective herbicides and competitive crops. As with Canada thistle, field bindweed also stores food reserves in its roots. Cultivation can break up these root stores but root pieces can grow new plants, so cultivation must continue.

In South Dakota over 95% control was achieved by cultivating at two week intervals in June and July and three week intervals in August and September. But, due to cost, loss of crop production and soil erosion concerns, continuous tillage is often not practical.

Effective herbicides include 2, 4-D, dicamba (Banvel/Vanquish/Clarity), picloram (Tordon) and glyphosate (Roundup). A succesful herbicide program will also require multiple applications in order to be successful and to get enough into the roots to kill the roots and root buds. Apply herbicides when the stems are at least 12 inches long and the plant is actively growing. For more information on field bindweed control.

Biennial weeds

Musk thistle

Musk thistle spends its first year in the rosettes stage, which is when it is most vulnerable to herbicide treatment. Herbicide options include dicamba (Banvel/Vanquish/Clarity), 2,4-D, or dicamba plus 2,4-D, picloram (Tordon) or aminopyralid (milestone). Treatments are best applied in the fall in the rosettes stage. Though not as effective, there are also options for application up to early flower growth stages. For more information on musk thistle control.

Scotch thistle

Scotch thistle also spends its first year in a rosettes growth stage and is best controlled with herbicides at this time. Herbicides effective in controlling scotch thistle are similar to musk thistle, with the most effective being dicamba and milestone.

Mechanical control can also be effective for both musk and scotch thistle. Removing the top growth below the soil level will kill either species. Be sure to collect and burn any growth removed to prevent any seed spread. Maintaining or planting healthy, thick stands of grass will also help out-compete these invasives. For more information on scotch thistle control.

Conclusion

It is important to remember that if weeds are stressed by a lack of moisture or extreme heat, they will not respond as well to herbicide treatments. These conditions can decrease leaf size, increase waxy coverings and decrease the plants translocation ability. All of which will decrease the effectiveness of the herbicide.

With harvest going on or beginning soon depending on your location, this is a good time to scout your fields and look for any perennial or biennial weeds moving in. The time you spend today will pay big dividends next spring.

More information on fall weed control

If you have a weed that you would like identified or if you want more information on controlling a specific weed bring in a sample to the office, or to your local UW Extension office. Also, see the links below for more information on fall weed control.

Fall noxious weed control:

Barnyards and Backyards article: Fall is a good time for weed management

Perennial weed management:

Getting the most from fall perennial weed management

Disclosure. Common chemical and trade names are used in this publication for clarity by the reader. Inclusion of a common chemical or trade name does not imply endorsement of that particular product or brand of herbicide and exclusion does not imply non-approval.

What can you gain from testing your hay?

Feeding hay near Jackson, WY.
Feeding hay near Jackson, WY.

So by now, you have probably heard the hype about testing the quality of your hay. But why do it? Is it worth the time and money? These are questions that you will have to answer for yourself, but there are some reasons you might want to consider it.

You can find out what you are feeding your animals, or maybe not feeding them. If selling the hay, you will have a better idea what you are selling, making it easier to determine a fair price. Comparing results over multiple years can help you identify trends in your production, such as a decrease in quality as a stand declines, or effects of new management strategies, techniques, varieties, etc.

Sampling technique

But, it is important to remember that the results you get are only as good as the sample provided to the lab. You must be able to account for variation between bales and across the field while minimizing sampler error. To accomplish this, it is important that a sample come from one field and one cutting. Don’t mix forages or cuttings, as the quality can be very different. Most labs now are using near infrared reflectance (NIR) to analyze forage samples for quality. This means that all the hay from one cutting must be represented by a thumbnail sized, ground sample! Often no more than 1/2 a gram. So it is easy to see why your sampling technique and handling are very important.

To account for variation across a lot of hay it is recommended that you take 20 samples, each sample from a different bale. It should add up to about a 1/2 pound sample by the end, all of which is sent to the lab. Samples should always be taken from the center of the bale on the twine side. This way, the sample represents multiple flakes rather than only one or two. If the field is variable or weedy, then more samples should be taken.

To obtain a random sampling, you could randomly choose a bale to sample then walk 15 steps, sample again, walk 5 steps, sample again, walk 20 steps, sample again, etc. Do not specifically choose a bale or leave out a bale. Besides, with 20 samples, it won’t matter that much anyway. Although, if you are sampling hay to feed, leaving out moldy sections from your sampling can help to give you a more accurate idea of what your animals will actually be eating, as they will probably leave that anyway. But if you are selling the hay, then you must include all parts of the lot so as to accurately represent what the buyer is getting.

Coring tool

The next thing to consider is the tool that will be used. To achieve the most accurate sample, a coring tool is your best choice. Simply reaching into a bale and grabbing a handful of hay does not give a good representative sample. It is important that the tool be sharp and between 12″ and 24″ in length. Shorter lengths have been shown to not represent variability in the bale, and longer lengths tend to produce too large a sample. if the sample is too large, the lab might not grind all of it. This can lead to non-random sampling and bias. The diameter should also be between 5/8 and 3/4 inches, for the same reasons. For a list of recommended tools, see the National Forage Testing Association website listing:

http://bit.ly/nftahayprobes

Many of the County extension offices across Wyoming have hay probes that can be checked out in order to take your samples as well, if you would rather not purchase one.

Sample preparation

Many labs offer plastic sealable bags that have a place for you to identify the forage type, cutting, date, location and owner. If not, then combine the sample into a polyethylene freezer bag with the info written on it. Avoid placing the samples in direct sunlight, keep cool and send them to the lab as soon as possible.

More information

In Goshen County, we send all samples into Ward Laboratories in Kearney, NB. The cost is about $15 per sample and we have sealable plastic bags from the lab as well as a core sampler for checkout. If you are outside of Goshen County, contact your local extension office to see what their practice is. You can find contact info here:

http://bit.ly/uwextcountyoffs

For more information on forage sampling technique:

http://bit.ly/uidahoforagetesting

For help interpreting forage quality test results:

http://bit.ly/interpforagequal

YouTube video:

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Monitor soil moisture to increase irrigation efficiency – What options do you have?

Monitoring soil moisture can increase irrigation efficiency by reducing runoff and deep drainage losses and by avoiding crop water stress. Many methods exist that reflect the amount of money invested, level of technology used dependent on irrigation method, and management strategies and goals.

Important Considerations

Consider the irrigation method and the level of control you have on the amount and timing of irrigations. The more control, the more detailed information that can be used. Consider the crops and soils. Some devices work better in annual than perennial crops. Some are better in coarse soils versus fine soils. Can you go to the field every couple of days? Or do you want a more automated system? Different methods may give slightly different readings; they will usually track changes in soil moisture similarly. Look at trends as soil moisture changes, and remember, it is as much an art as a science.

What Options Exist?

The least-expensive technique is the look-and-feel method. The feel and appearance of soil changes with variations in soil moisture and texture, and with practice can be estimated to within about 5 percent. Take walnut-sized soil samples at 1-foot increments for the root zone of the crop and in at least three sites depending on soil and crop variability. Use a soil probe for best results – especially for deep soil samples. For more information, refer to the Natural Resources Conservation Service document “Estimating Soil Moisture by Feel and Appearance” http://bit.ly/soilfeel.

Soil moisture determination by feel
Soil moisture determination by feel
Tensiometers

A meter or sensor is a step up. These include tensiometers or electrical resistance blocks. A tensiometer is an air-tight, waterfilled tube with a porous ceramic tip that is stuck in the ground. On the top is a vacuum gauge. The device measures soil water tension displayed in centibars (cb). With an effective range of 0 to 80 cb, these are best suited for coarse soils or horticultural applications in which the soil is not allowed to dry excessively. With no cables or buried blocks, they are good for cultivated fields and annual crops.

Tensiometers installed in a field
Tensiometers installed in a field

Although easy to use, tensiometers need to be serviced regularly. This means filling with water and using a pump to create the vacuum. Price is based on length, ranging from 6 to 48 inches, and $45 to $80 respectively.

Electrical Resistance Blocks

Electrical resistance blocks come in two main varieties: gypsum blocks and granular matrix sensors. Both absorb water from the surrounding soil and work off the principle water conducts electricity; there is less electrical resistance with increased soil moisture.

watermark blocks and handheld metter
Watermark blocks and handheld meter

Gypsum blocks range from $5 to $15 apiece and last about a year. Granular matrix sensors range from $25 to $35 apiece and last three to seven years. The most important factor in reliability is good soil contact, and is the number one reason for poor performance. Install the blocks/sensors in a representative location in the field, minimizing soil compaction and damage to canopy cover.

There are two options to read electrical resistance blocks: a handheld meter or a data logger. Handheld meters cost $150 to $600, are portable, can be used to monitor multiple locations, and have no buried wires. A producer might have to wade through a wet crop to where the sensors are buried to take the reading. This process only gives real-time readings; there are no readings showing the change in soil moisture over time.

Data logger
Data logger
Solar Powered data logger
Solar powered data logger

Data loggers cost $60 to $500, read several sensors on a regular schedule, store the data, and graph it over time. Soil moisture trends can be quickly seen. Buried wires are required, so these may be more suited to perennial crops.

DSCF1664
You also have the option to automate the sensors and have the information transmitted to a data logger by radio, WiFi, etc.

Soil moisture monitoring systems are becoming more practical and feasible for the average producer as technology advances and prices fall. Still, they should not replace personal observations and experience. Rather, the new information can be combined with personal observations to make better irrigation decisions.

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Green and yellow foxtail control in alfalfa

All the rain and the cool nights is making me think about fall here in Goshen County! With that fall is  a good time to think about weed control in alfalfa. I’ve been getting calls about green and yellow foxtail control in alfalfa recently and wanted to provide some food for thought on the topic. Green foxtail has adapted well to the multiple harvest intervals of alfalfa, able to produce viable seed within a typical cutting cycle. Combine this with the fact that most vegetative growth is below the swather and the case could be made that green and yellow foxtail are two of the most problematic summer weeds in alfalfa.

Controlling green foxtail in your alfalfa stand almost inevitably requires herbicide application. But, before you get out your sprayer lets determine if it will be worth your efforts and monetary expense. Healthy alfalfa stands are able to branch out and fill out open spaces in the field following weed control, but if your stand is older or thin, it may not be worth it to invest time and money into a weed control program.

To estimate stand density, choose 3 to 4 representative locations in the field and mark off a 2-square foot area in each.  Count the number of crowns and divide by two to get the number of plants per square foot. Plant densities of 3 to 4 or more plants per square foot under irrigated conditions would be considered healthy while 2 to 3 plants per square foot is okay in dryland. Plant densities below these thresholds may not warrant much effort and rotating to another crop may be the better option, as little yield response will be seen.

Chemical control

If considering chemical control, then you need to look at when you will be applying. Will this be a dormant application in late fall? Or are you trying to knock back weeds between cuttings? Though weed control is always more effective on seedlings and immature weeds, there are some options for controlling green foxtail mid summer, in between cuttings. For in-season control clethodim, the active ingredient in Select Max, has proven to be very effective. Rated at 85 to 90% control in the 2014 Guide for Weed Management, available at the Goshen County Extension Office or online from the University of Nebraska Extension for $10. For best results, apply to grass prior to cutting but if this is not possible irrigate once following cutting to encourage new growth and allow grass to grow to the minimum recommended size prior to application. Select Max can also be tank mixed with broadleaf herbicides. Please refer to the label for specific recommendations. Do not graze or harvest for 15 days following application. The cost range for Select Max is $8.50 to $15.25.

For preemergent control, Prowl H20 applied in the early spring prior to weed emergence has also shown to provide very good control of green foxtail, at 85 to 90%. There is a preharvest interval of 28 days and the alfalfa must be less than 6 inches in height at the time of application. if grown for seed, the harvest interval increases to 50 days. Best if incorporated through rainfall or irrigation. Rate dependent on soil type and organic matter present, so check the label. The cost range for Prowl H20 is $6.75 to $12.75.

Roundup will also provide good control, if the alfalfa is roundup ready. Apply once at the 2nd trifoliate and then again 2 weeks later. Cost ranges from $3.75 to $7.50.

Conclusion

Alfalfa is a strong competitor with weeds when a healthy and thick stand is maintained. As the stand ages and plant densities decline then assessment needs to be made to determine if weed control will have economic returns through increased yield. Assessing plant density can be a good method for estimating feasibility of weed control.

Green and yellow foxtail can be problematic in alfalfa, but there are options to control these weeds and increase stand health, longevity and productivity. Determine the best time to apply based on your management strategy and the time of year and then choose the best herbicide option. Many herbicides can also be tankmixed with broadleaf herbicides to extend your weed control spectrum. And, whenever you use any pesticides, please remeber to always read and follow all label recommendations!

Enjoy the moisture and good luck with your green/yellow foxtail control! If you have any further questions, please contact Caleb Carter at (307) 532-2436 or at ccarte13@uwyo.edu.

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Pasture and cropland leases and rates

Though leases between farm operators and land owners have been around a long time, they are gaining in popularity. This may be due to the increased costs associated with running a farm or ranch, as they provide a way to increase the profit margin without large capital investments. They can also be a method of risk management by spreading the risk between multiple parties.

What is the purpose of having a lease agreement? Should it be written down? What should be in it? These are all questions that should be asked by anyone considering leasing land, equipment, livestock, etc, on both sides of the agreement. There are several benefits to having a lease agreement and writing it down:

  • A written lease may be required by state law.
  • Good opportunity for brainstorming and discussion regarding the components of the lease, specific responsibilities of each party, etc.
  • Can serve as a good means for dealing with the unexpected. The more thought, time and effort put into creating the lease the better prepared you will be.
  • Good time to flush out the details about what practices will be allowed/not allowed, who is responsible for what, etc.
  • As the saying goes, good fences make good neighbors. The same is true for a well thought out, written lease. And it is always available for future reference.

How do you go about creating a fair and straightforward lease agreement that both sides can agree on? A good place to start is Ag Lease 101. A product of the North Central Farm Management Extension Committee, a collaborative effort between extension economists across the Midwestern US.

It is a great resource for both land owners and operators, providing publications on various types of lease agreements including fixed and flexible cash rents, crop sharing, pasture leases, building and machinery leases and beef cow rental arrangements. Sample leases are also provided as well as worksheets. The benefits and drawbacks to having a crop share agreement versus a fixed cash or flexible cash rent are discussed as well as considerations in leasing pasture.

Though determining rental rates is certainly not an exact science, there are several factors to consider. These could include local supply and demand, current or anticipated markets, long standing working relationships, etc. But whatever factors are involved, it is in the best interest of both parties to meet the needs of all parties and find a fair and equitable lease agreement. The publications and included worksheets can help you to walk through your expenses and net returns, helping you to reach a good compromised rate that will benefit both parties.

Lease Rates for Wyoming

The USDA National Ag Statistics Survey (NASS) surveys farmers and ranchers each year and provides the current reported lease rates. The average is then given as the average lease rate for the state. County and regional numbers are also available through NASS.

Table 1 presents reported lease rates for irrigated and non-irrigated cropland in Wyoming. Lease rates for non-irrigated cropland have fluctuated much less than rates for irrigated over the last 6 years. In 2014, the average cash rent for irrigated cropland in Wyoming was $91.00 per acre, up $2 from 2013. At an average of $14.00 per acre, cash rent for non-irrigated cropland was unchanged from 2013.

Table 1. Irrigated and non-irrigated cropland lease rates – monthly basis
Year
Irigated
Non-irrigated
2014$91$14
2013$89$14
2012$83$13
2011$83$12
2010$72$12
2009$75$12
2008$70$11

As we can see in Table 2, there is large fluctuation in prices paid for pasture or grazing leases depending on the method used to determine the lease rate. Whether a lease rate is calculated on a per acre basis, per head, by animal units or by cow/calf pairs can have a big effect on the lease and the rate.

Table 2. Pasture/grazing lease rates – monthly basis
Year
$/acre
$/head
$/animal Unit
$/cow-calf pair
2014$5.00N/AN/AN/A
2013$4.50$19.40$18.70$21.00
2012$4.80$19.40$18.70$21.80
2011$4.50$18.30$17.60$20.50
2010$4.00$17.20$16.60$19.30
2009$4.00$16.70$16.00$18.70
2008$4.00$16.40$15.70$18.40

It is important to specify the stocking rate as a part of a grazing lease, assuring both the landowner and operator are on the same page. Helping to maximize the resources available while still preserving the production for future use. Stocking rates could be expressed as the average during the grazing period, allowing for fluctuation or by animal days or animal unit days. or a maximum can be set. Livestock owner and land owner contributions must also be agreed upon, such as who will check water, fix fence, etc.

So, whether you are a landowner or looking to lease your irrigated farm or you need some extra grazing for your cows this fall, taking the time to work out a clear and equitable lease will benefit all parties involved and can make for strong, long lasting relationships, as well as more sustainable production.

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EPA inspections coming to Southeast Wyoming

We have received word that the EPA will be conducting Worker Protection Standard (WPA) and other inspections across Southeast Wyoming this week. This includes Albany, Laramie, Platte and Goshen Counties.

Though the focus will be on fertilizer dealers and those with greenhouse production facilities,  anyone with a private or commercial applicators license could be subject to a surprise, random inspection.

The main focus of the WPS is to protect Ag workers, and these requirements apply to farmers who have hired workers. Employer responsibilities include:

  • Provide safety training
  • Notification of workers: Information center and Safety poster
  • Provide water, disposable towels
  • Provide medical aid transport
  • Observe restricted entry intervals (REI)
  • Provide PPE as required on label
  • Post warning signs if required
  • Keep Records of training activities
For more info on WPS, go to the EPA website: http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/health/worker.htm
 Here is a link where you can find help in record keeping:  http://bit.ly/pesticiderecordkeeping
 Worker Protection Standard

Though somewhat dry, this video does outline what the WPS is and what it means to the producer.

I know we are all busy this time of year with harvesting, equipment maintenance, etc. but this may be a good time to look over your records and get everything in order. And to think about your pesticide application practices. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact Caleb Carter at (307) 532-2436 or ccarte13@uwyo.edu.

New Newsletter for Southeast Wyoming!

The first, inaugural issue, of the Wyoming High Plains Crop Update newsletter has been released. Look to is as your source for upcoming programs and workshops as well as relevant news for farmers and ranchers across southeast Wyoming. Topics in the monthly newsletter will include crop research, variety trials, irrigation, market items, federal regulatory information, etc.

To view the first issue, click on the first page below:

Wyoming High Plains Crop Update

 

Some of the topics covered this month include:

Wyoming ranch uses risk management tool

Farm and ranch managers know change is inevitable. There is a good chance a business will need to adjust and make one or more operational changes. Operational changes can range from being relatively minor in nature, such as deciding whether or not to put a few more pounds on feeder calves before selling them. Major change may come in the form of a question brought on by severe drought – like buy hay or sell cows. …to read more click here 

2014 farm bill webinars

The new Farm Bill passed by congress in February has brought along a lot changes. Are you wondering how changes in crop insurance or livestock disaster programs could affect your production? How about what opportunities are available with the increased focus on new and beginning farmers and specialty crop programs? If you would like to learn more then check out a new series of webinars available at http://bit.ly/aginuncertaintimes. They feature specialist from around the country providing information on the latest on the new farm bill. Each webinar is around 30 to 40 minutes and you can listen online or download an audio or video version.

Lessons from the cheatgrass workshop

While the crops benefit from the above average moisture this spring, the weeds are also taking full advantage, especially cheatgrass. This brought over 40 concerned producers and land managers out to the Cheatgrass Management Workshop and Field Tour held in Torrington on June 11th. If you were unable to attend, a great resource for anyone battling cheatgrass is the “Cheatgrass Management Handbook”, available for $10 plus shipping or free download at: http://bit.ly/cheatgrasshandbook.

Brian Mealor, Extension Weed Specialist with the University of Wyoming, began by sharing a quote from Aldo Leopold: …to read more click here

If you are interested in receiving this monthly newsletter, please contact Caleb Carter at the Goshen County Extension Office at (307) 532-2436 or ccarte13@uwyo.edu. You can also view the archived issues at the following link:

Cara Noseworthy, UW graduate student, explains the results of the trageted grazing study at SAREC.

Lessons from the cheatgrass workshop

While the crops benefit from the above average moisture this spring, the weeds are also taking full advantage, especially cheatgrass. This brought over 40 concerned producers and land managers out to the Cheatgrass Management Workshop and Field Tour held in Torrington on June 11th. If you were unable to attend, a great resource for anyone battling cheatgrass is the Cheatgrass Management Handbook. It is available for purchase or free download: http://bit.ly/cheatgrasshandbook.

Brian Mealor, Extension Weed Specialist with the University of Wyoming, began by sharing a quote from Aldo Leopold:

“I listened carefully for clues whether the West has accepted cheat as a necessary evil, to be lived with until kingdom come, or whether it regards cheat as a challenge to rectify its past errors in land-use. I found the hopeless attitude almost universal”  – Aldo Leopold 1949

Too many of us have been in this state of mind, of hopelessness. But the take away message from the workshop was that there is hope. First, though, one must understand the biology.

Biology

Brian also stated that:

“Cheatgrass is easy to kill, it’s an annual, pull it up and it’s dead. But it’s hard to get rid of”

Cheatgrass is an annual, meaning it completes its life cycle in one growing season. As a winter annual it typically germinates in the fall and overwinters as a seedling. It is a prolific seed producer,  up to 500 pounds per acre! Seeds can germinate shortly after maturity, with an almost 99-percent germination rate, but are only viable in the soil for 1 to 2 years.

Cheatgrass management threshold
How do we identify thresholds? Where should we prioritize our efforts for control?

Management

Develop a monitoring system to determine the level of invasion and where to focus efforts on control. A natural system changes as invasive species come in. When the invasives push the site over the ecological threshold, the nature of the site changes. It is harder to then return it to the natural state.

Prevention is the best strategy. Buy weed-free hay and seed, clean equipment and hold animals at least a week before moving them from a cheatgrass site to a cheatgrass-free site. Working together with neighbors and maintaining healthy vegetation will also help. If cheatgrass is present, refer to your monitoring results to help choose the best management strategy. Consider management goals, experience, available resources, etc.

No “silver bullet” for managing cheatgrass and each situation should be evaluated individually to determine the best course of action. This may include targeted grazing, reduction in nitrogen availability, chemical or biological control or a combination of the above.

Chemical control is the most common choice in range and pasture situations. But proper training and safety precautions should be taken. Training is available and for more information go to the University of Wyoming Extension Pesticide Safety Education Program website.

Table 1. Herbicides labeled for cheatgrass control or restoration in rangeland and pasture settings. Always read and adhere to the entire herbicide label and supplementary labeling.
Chemical
trade name(s)
application rates+ (oz. product/acre)
timing
Glyphosate Roundup/others 12–16 Spring, prior to seed production
Imazapic Plateau, Panoramic 4–8 Fall, prior to cheatgrass emergence, or spring before cheatgrass reaches 2" tall
Glyphosate + Imazapic Journey12–16 Fall, following cheatgrass emergence or early spring
Rimsulfuron Matrix 2–3 Fall, prior to cheatgrass emergence or spring, prior tp seed production
Propoxycarbazone sodiumCanter R+P0.9–1.2 Fall or spring early post emergence
Sulfometuron + Chlor- sulfuronLandmark XP 0.75–1.5 Fall, prior to cheatgrass emergence or spring , beefore plants are 3" tall
SulfosulfuronOutrider 0.75–1.33 Fall or spring early post-emergence prior to three-leaf stage
Paraquat* Gramoxone Extra 20–24 Late spring (after 90-percent node formation, before full bloom

* Restricted-use herbicide.                                                                                                                                             + Application rate varies according to timing, site conditions, and goals.

Two of Brian’s graduate students presented on their research. Cara Noseworthy discussed mapping and prioritizing cheatgrass infestations across Wyoming. She is identifying high risk areas for infestation as well as those which would benefit most from treatment. Will Rose presented on using germination differences to remove cheatgrass from reclamation seed using it’s ability to germinate at very low temperatures i. Both studies are helping to further our understanding of cheatgrass and how to control it.

Cheryl Schwarzkopf, Weed and Pest Supervisor, Converse County presented discussed a new bacteria treatment called bacteria ACK55.  Though currently still in the research, it will hopefully be licensed for use in Wyoming within the next year. This bacteria is collected from local soil samples, propagated to increase numbers and applied similar to a pesticide. It is selective towards cheatgrass and possibly some other invasives It remains in the soil, continuing to control cheatgrass from year to year.

So before you lose all hope, decide to take action. Several options are available for cheatgrass control or at least management. First and foremost, we need to change our mindset and begin a systematic approach to do our part.

*if you were unable to attend the workshop but would be interested in attending a follow-up either next year or in 2016, then please let me know at (307) 532-2436 or ccarte13@uwyo.edu.