Friday, April 11, 2014

Identifying Weeds

A farmer asked how to identify weeds and it made me think how I learned.  Probably thistle is one of the first I learned because you got pricked if you tried to pull it!  That made it a "weed to hoe" type weed right off the bat.

Ragweeds have caused me and many of my family and friends more human suffering than any other weeds.  We are allergic to them.  I hate ragweeds.

Johnsongrass cost dad 3 farms or something like that.  From his stories, hog cholera wiped his herd out twice but Johnsongrass cost us more money.  Remember MDM hybrids?  Maize Dwarf Mosaic was a major problem in the 60's.  We planted the worst fields to alfalfa and basically grazed and baled the grass to death.  Fusilade herbicide was a savior when it came out.

There are so many ways to learn.  Right now is a good time to start to learn a few new weeds as it warms up and the first weeds emerge.  We have so much poa annua around here my visitors last weekend were sure they were intentionally planted cover crops!

Here is a pretty simple web guide to weeds from the Farm Journal people thanks to BASF.  BASF has weed guides and about any chemical company has free guides to use.  I wouldn't spend a lot of money on a formal textbook unless you "must have one" for your library.  A day in the pickup with a guide and someone who knows more than you do will help identify your weed population better than a dusty book on the shelf.

The Weed Guide to the North Central states is excellent but old black and white drawings that go in to great detail.  It is not color pictures and memorization, it is how to identify weeds by shape, size, color, pubescence and the like.  I would need a magnifying glass today to identify the difference in some grass weeds.  Most of us don't know green from yellow from Giant foxtail, we just treat them all like foxtail.

If you use a smart phone every day, there are plenty of "app's" and easily available resources like the BASF one, Ag PhD and others.  The thing is to take time to learn what is in your fields and the next weed cycle is here.  Spring has finally sprung here in southwest Ohio!

Can you identify poison hemlock?  Do you know dock from curly?

Ed Winkle

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