Posted in Crops, Uncategorized

Thistle Control & Fall Needle Drop

Control Thistles during October

As a kid growing up on the farm, my sister and I were always responsible for controlling the thistles in our pastures and on the farm which usually meant picking the heads off of them and using a shovel to dig the plant out.  Along with hauling irrigation pipe, it was not the most enjoyable job on the farm, but it did teach us hard work and responsibility.  If you have thistles and don’t enjoy digging them, now is actually the time to control them with herbicides.

If you walk out to the usual patches, I’ll bet you find many thistle seedlings.  Most thistle seedlings this fall will be small, in a flat, rosette growth form, and they are very sensitive now to certain herbicides.  So spray this fall and thistles will not be a big problem next year.

Bruce Anderson, UNL Forage Specialist offers some great information on controlling thistles this fall. Several herbicides are effective and recommended for thistle control.  Maybe the most effective is a newer herbicide called Milestone, or a combination of Milestone and 2,4-D called Forefront.  Two other very effective herbicides are Tordon 22K and Grazon.  But be careful with Tordon and Grazon since they also can kill woody plants, including trees you might want to keep.  2,4-D also works well while it’s warm, but you will get better thistle control by using a little less 2,4-D and adding a small amount of Banvel or dicamba to the mix.   

Other herbicides also help control thistles in pastures – like Redeem, Cimarron, and Curtail.  No matter which weed killer you use, though, be sure to read and follow label instructions, and be sure to spray on time.

Next year, avoid overgrazing your pastures so your grass stands get thicker and compete with any new thistle seedlings.  Give some thought now to thistle control during October and November.  Your pastures can be cleaner next spring.

 Evergreens turning brown?

If you have noticed that some of your coniferous trees have started to turn brown and have been loosing needles, more than likely your trees are going through a normal phase of their life cycle called fall needle drop.  This can cause concern for homeowners when they see their evergreen trees turn brown, but realize that  the older needles on the inside of evergreen trees are shed each fall after they turn yellow, brown or reddish tan in color.  Some years the process is very subtle and therefore not noticed, especially when it is on the inside part of the tree.  Pine trees can hold their needles for 2-5 or more years, depending on the species. Spruce trees generally hold onto their needles longer than pine trees do, approximately 5-7 years.

Fall needle drop is a natural condition and is not a sign of disease or insect infestation; however, any factor that increases stress on evergreen trees will intensify the autumn needle drop. Stress factors include drought, herbicide injury, root damage and insect or disease damage.

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