By Ben Bain
After an unusually hot and dry summer, fall is fully upon us. If you weren’t able to get rid of all of your weeds, there is still a little bit of time to finish the job.
Fall can be a good time to look for next year’s problem plants. Biennials, such as musk thistle and houndstongue, will have green rosettes growing now, which can be dug up or sprayed. If eliminated now, you won’t have to worry about them bolting and going to flower next year.
Perennials, such as Canada thistle and Russian knapweed, can be effectively sprayed as long as the leaves are still at least 60 percent green. Fall is actually the best time to treat perennials because they are taking nutrients down into the root system. After temperatures get below 27 degrees, serious leaf tissue damage can occur, so wait at least 48 hours before assessing damage.
Since we have had such a dry growing season, chances are that some of the competitive grasses and native broadleaf plants suffered. These plants are your best line of defense to keep weeds from invading vacant space in the soils.
Late fall can be a great time to plant seeds. Typically around Thanksgiving, Durango gets snow that will last throughout the winter. If you broadcast seeds right before this period, the snow can act as frozen ground cover that protects the seeds from birds and other animals, as well as compacting the seeds into the ground.
Then in the spring, the melting snow provides moisture for seeds. When broadcasting, be sure to try to get good soil contact by raking or harrowing the seeds into the ground afterward. If you just want an easy, self-sufficient grass mix, try “low grow.” It is drought tolerant and low maintenance. You can get seed mixes at local nurseries, Basin Coop or Southwest Seed.
The cost share program is still available to assist landowners with deferring the cost of herbicides and also seed mixes. For more information, visit laplataweeds.org.
Ben Bain is the weed control coordinator for La Plata County and is located at the La Plata County Fairgrounds Extension Office, 2500 Main Ave. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 382-6470.