NDSU Extension - Burke County


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Leafy Spurge Control

County Agent News
Dan Folske
June 15, 2020 

Leafy Spurge Control

            Leafy Spurge is an introduced plant which is extremely invasive. It’s yellow flowers can be seen in many areas of the county right now. If left uncontrolled it just continues to spread and replaces native and other desirable plants. That means less productivity on grazing and haying land and also less usable habitat for many wildlife species.

            Leafy Spurge is listed as a Noxious Weed by the state of North Dakota and landowners are required to control it. Control be by chemical (herbicide), mechanical (mowing), or biological (grazing or insects). No one method is perfect and there is no method or combination of methods which will eradicate an infestation. I have seen landowners/producers who have eradicated some very small spots by combinations herbicides and other methods and have seen other infestations reduced in size or density through diligence in application of various control methods.

            A common problem I have seen is making one or two releases of flea beetles and assuming they will control the infestation. I have seen some very good successes with flea beetles and have seen many failures. Soil conditions, vegetative conditions, temperature and other factors play a huge role in biological control. Even the most successful bio control needs to be monitored and often supplemented by other methods. Monitoring of beetle populations is very important. If your beetle populations are not showing evidence of control you may be in violation of the noxious weed law. I generally recommend mowing or herbicide applications around property borders.

            It is almost time to monitor your populations. Adult flea beetles are generally active in mid June to early July. Areas with few or no beetles present need to be considered for additional releases or the use of alternate control methods like mowing or herbicides. Areas with high beetle populations should be considered for collecting and moving. If you have a site with high beetle numbers I would like to discuss possible collections in cooperation with the weed board and neighboring landowners. You cannot hurt a site by over collecting! Sites with an excess beetle population results in the beetles competing for forage (leafy spurge) and the “move off” or “die off” of the adult beetle populations. Even the most thorough collecting leaves more than adequate numbers for maintaining the population on the site.

            Sites should be checked when temperatures are at least 70F and warmer is better. During periods of cooler temperatures the adult beetles will be down in the plant canopy rather than high on the plants. If they are not high on the plants they are difficult to see or to catch with a sweep net.

            If you would like me to check a site with you I would be happy to bring sweep nets and see what we can find. Email me at dan.folske@ndsu.edu or call me at 701-377-2927 (office) or 701-339-1133 (cell).


Leafy Spurge Chemical Control

            Control of leafy spurge with herbicides is generally done with Tordon, Plateau, 2,4-D or dicamba products. 2,4-D is the least expensive but requires treatment at least twice per year to prevent seed production. On small spots where access and labor is not an issue I have seen very good results with two or even three applications per year.  On larger areas Tordon, Tordon + Plateau, or Plateau alone (fall treatment only) will provide better control. A single fall treatment of 10 ounces of Plateau will provide good control for two or three years. Another good option for summer treatment is 1 pint of Tordon + 2 ounces of Plateau.

            The Burke County Weed Board has cost share available for Tordon and Plateau. The Weed Board also has Milestone available for Canada Thistle control pastures and non cropland. Escort is available for control of Common Tansy. Contact the Burke County Extension office at 701-377-2927 for details.



Filed under: Burke news
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