Gary R. Smalley: Lessons on weeds

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When my wife and I bought property in Routt County a while ago, I thought, “Great, now we have some elbow room and maybe, if we are lucky, a retirement nest egg.” What I didn’t realize at the time was that we were taking on another major responsibility: weed control.

As a property owner, it is your responsibility to identify and exterminate these weeds and any other noxious weeds that may be found on your property.

Our local weed expert to call for advice is Greg Brown, Routt County weed supervisor, at 970-870-5246.

You can control weeds by using mechanical, biological and chemical methods. The most effective way I have found to control weeds is to spray them with herbicide because it kills the weeds down to the root system so they don’t grow back. When mixing herbicide, it is important to read all the directions for the mixture. The tendency is to think that more is better, but if you ever mix up a “hot load,” you will kill the weeds, but you also can kill the surrounding beneficial grasses and be left with a bare patch of dirt that is not only ugly but will be more susceptible to weeds in the future.

I spot-spray off an ATV with a mixture that kills white top, hounds tongue, thistle and the other broad-leaf weeds and does not harm the beneficial grasses and forage. I spray with the biggest 12V pump I can find, and I have found that a thin spray stream that could put out a small grass fire works the best. You can be more accurate, have the greatest range and get the most weeds in shortest amount of time. I’ll hit the weed and give it a one-second wiggle and that is enough to do the trick. I always cover up any exposed skin to avoid exposure to the overspray and sun for that matter. You want the least amount of wind to avoid overspray of liquid. Wet ground is OK; however, if it looks like rain, it could wash off the spray and waste your effort and money.

Weed control is a spring- and summer-long project, but the most effective time is during the growth stage of the weeds in the spring. So if you don’t already have a weed control program for your property, now is the time to establish one. There are several commercial weed control businesses that are licensed to work in Routt County. Together, we can keep weeds in control, but only if every one who owns property does their part.

I encourage you to go out, walk or ride on your property and get to know what noxious weeds you might have. The best thing you can do for your property is to be out on it so you can observe what is going on. Make a plan to control and eliminate noxious weeds from your land. You will be doing yourself a favor by maintaining the value of your property by increasing beneficial forage for livestock and wildlife. Your friends and neighbors will appreciate the fact that you are being a good steward of your land.

Gary R. Smalley

President, Routt County Weed Advisory Board

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