The Fieldman’s Files – Lookout!!

Normand Boulet, CCA
Agricultural Fieldman
M.D. of Smoky River

 

It’s not that I want to try and make it sound like weed and pest inspectors are important, at best I expect most people consider them to be a necessary evil, however I would not have devoted over 25 years of my life if I didn’t think what we do is important. I do want to make people realize that your local municipal inspectors, whether they be M.D., County, town or village can only be so many places, will only see so many things and I think it’s necessary that everyone be on the lookout for weeds. All persons need to be aware that weeds can move from place to place, showing up at any time and knowing what the worst ones are, how to identify them or at least who to contact to have plants you aren’t familiar with identified is very important. What would you rather do, identify and deal with one or two plants, keep them from setting seed and infesting your property or only realize that this new plant you didn’t see or ignored several years ago has spread from the yard or the edge of the field to your whole farm, has gone from a few minutes and no expense to hundreds of hours of picking and spraying?
I’m going to give you a few examples of situations that happened to me personally where I noticed new weed infestations and nipped them in the bud. Better to tell on myself, right?
There are four situations that have happened since I started farming the land at Donnelly, three are pretty easy to explain, the 4th well I have a theory… Twice I have noticed Scentless chamomile plants growing just off the highway, on the edge of the crop. Living along the highway has its advantages, but the potential for clumps of mud bearing weed seeds to fall off trucks and equipment is a definite drawback. I would likely blame oilfield traffic on those 2 chamomile instances, chamomile makes a very small seed, and millions of it, and spreads easily with soil and water movement. Seeing and picking those few plants before they set seed was key to keeping them from spreading. #3, towards the end of July this year I was walking through the yard and noticed something growing on a pile of gravel that had been brought in about a month earlier. Russian thistle and green foxtail!! Both are considered more “southern” weeds as we generally don’t have the heat and dry weather they prefer. But gravel pits are dry and usually in the river valleys, a microclimate area that would be very suitable. Russian thistle is not related to the thistles we view as weeds. It’s actually in the goosefoot family (like lamb’s quarters). It would be most often recognized as Tumbleweed and that is how it spreads from place to place. That, and apparently in gravel. I’ll be following up with the person who delivered that gravel, to find out where it came from.
My last example is the one I can’t quite explain. A couple chamomile plants growing in front of the swather header right in among the clover and grass, discovered the same day as the Russian thistle. Boy, am I glad I saw them before they set seed and were mowed and spread throughout the yard. I bought that swather header a few years ago and it was cleaned of all soil and vegetation, but not there. It was cleaned in another area of the yard where I would notice something growing. It has been used on the farm for 3 seasons, so where did these 2 chamomile plants come from? My theory is with birds. Whether caught in the feathers or in the guano, the 2 plants were just below the reel of the swather, a perfect perch for a tired migrating song bird. Early Detection Rapid Response has saved my farm on those 4 occasions. Are you on the lookout? If you don’t know someone who would identify a plant for you feel free to text or e-mail me a picture, and use your local friendly Agricultural Fieldman or Weed Inspector as a resource, better to know than to let the weeds grow.
If you want to contact me, call me on my cell at (780) 837-0043 or via email at asb@mdsmokyriver.com.

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