Tom's Blog

Friday, April 6, 2012

Good time for early spraying

The advantage of early burns is that once the burn has eliminated last year's thatch and duff, new growth is easy to see. (If you can't burn early, consider burning the previous fall---conditions permitting.) One can get an early jump on spraying weeds or other undesirable plants that come up early.

Right now conditions are perfect for spraying one of our bugaboos, pale Indian plantain (Arnoglossum atriplicifolium), which I have wailed about in earlier posts. This clonal species is an early starter, and many of the stands we have contain dozens of plants, from very tiny to substantial in size.

It won't be long before our crew will be spraying this species, but at present they are still occupied planting seeds in recently burned areas. In the meantime, I am getting an early jump.

Last week I sprayed all the plants in a clone that came up in the bur oak savanna at the top of the the south-facing slope (which had been burned 13 March). I counted plants as I sprayed them (149 plants), which was lots smaller than the 1000-plant clone I sprayed early last spring.

Yesterday I sprayed new plants coming up in the Valley Prairie, which had also been burned on 13 March. Since most of the habitat in the Valley Prairie is wet mesic in character, plants tend to grow bigger and lusher. This includes not only PIP (as we call it), but lots of good plants, so it is important to be careful when spraying. Several species which are already up in the Valley Prairie include prairie dock, cup plant, rosin weed, golden Alexanders, rattlesnake master, stiff goldenrod, Indian grass, little bluestem, etc. etc. The photo below shows a PIP next to a prairie dock.
This is a medium-sized PIP. Some of the plants in this area were just barely visible, whereas others were twice as big as this one.

Of course, we don't just spray PIP. Any red or sweet clover or birds-foot trefoil is sprayed, as well as Canada thistle, motherwort, or catnip. The herbicide is 2% Clearout (a generic glyphosate). I prefer to use glyphosate at this time of year because there is no soil residual. If the target plant is close to a "good" plant, then it is important to avoid any herbicide on the latter. With a good nozzle on the backpack sprayer, it is possible to be quite specific. Since glyphosate is inactivated by soil, any chemical that gets into the soil is safe.


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