From Across the Field – 6-4-2020

Summer Is Here

Monday marked the meteorological start of the summer season and by driving around the county, it is evident that there was a need for some summer-like weather. Corn is beginning to develop and with a few nice days most of the soybeans have been able to be planted, some hay has been made, and if all goes right we will get to finish some manure trials on growing corn yet this week.

Last week I had a chance to walk some fields of barley with Eric Richer and a small grains agronomist. In those fields freeze and frost damage was low, which is a good sigh for producers who may have been worried about their small grain crop. I was also able to finish harvesting a winter forage trial at the Northwest Ag Research Station in Hoytville. With being out of the office, it feels good to back into a routine.

I noticed over the weekend that poison ivy is growing fast right now. Along with other weeds, poison ivy is also showing up in ornamental shrub and perennial borders, probably seeded through bird droppings. When growing among desirable plants, poison ivy is a challenge to control.

Three methods may prove successful. The first is to pull the vines when the soil is wet (wear gloves). The next is to sever the vine and pull out the existing vine, then cutting or spraying the new shoots as they grow. Finally, you can try to treat the poison ivy with a herbicide, while not getting it on the desirable plants, which may mean painting individual leaflets.

If you come in contact with poison ivy and are sensitive, immediately (within one to three minutes) wash with cold water and soap, which may prevent development of symptoms.   Poisoning depends on direct contact with the plant’s oil, which can be picked up from bruised foliage, or from contaminated shoes, clothes, pets or other objects.

Two other weeds, Cressleaf Groundsel and Poison Hemlock have been mentioned in conversation this week and are a concern in hay production. Cressleaf Groundsel is one of the more toxic plants to livestock, even when made in silage or dry hay. An upright plant with a yellow flower, in ingested by livestock can be deadly at relatively low rates. Scouting and control for the plant is best done in the fall of the year.

Poison Hemlock is a noxious weed that is extremely toxic to livestock. It looks like wild carrot or “Queen Ann’s Lace”, however it can grow to be 6 to 10 feet tall. If found in a ditch bank or field, poison hemlock can be partially managed by mowing and tilling. The most effective control approach involves properly timed applications of post-emergent herbicides including glyphosate (e.g. Roundup).  However, applications of herbicides must be made before the plant bolts from the rosette stage to have any chance of reducing seed production this year.  I’ll end with a quote from Henry David Thoreau“Be not simply good – be good for something.” Have a great week.

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