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SCHMIDT: Getting rid of dandelions

By Staff | Jun 1, 2018

Even with the dry conditions this spring, many homeowners are seeing a bumper crop of dandelions. Most people dislike this weed, but do not have a clear understanding of how to get rid of it. Dandelions are a perennial weed that likes undisturbed sites such as lawns and no-till environments. Tilling will kill dandelions or they can be dug out and should not return as long as 95-98% of the root is removed. If these two options are not appealing, another option for dandelion control is chemical application.

When spraying dandelions first look at the environment (lawn/field) to be sprayed. Second, consider the time of year to determine what type of herbicide will work best. If the area is not a lawn or does not have anything growing, the chemical, glyphosate, will work best. Remember, glyphosate is a non-selective total contact herbicide, meaning it will kill everything growing in the area at the time.

When spraying dandelions in a lawn, a 2-4-D product works well. This product will kill dandelions and other small broadleaf weeds that may present themselves. However, consider the time of year. Spraying dandelions in the spring (May/June) kills the upper part of the plant but does very little to kill the root system, so the plant will continue to grow throughout the summer. An application in July/August does very little to control dandelions.

A fall application will provide the most effective kill. Again, dandelions are a perennial weed, so they harden off and grow again the following year. Therefore, spraying in the fall (September/October) allows the chemical to advance further into the plant’s roots. This is because as days get shorter, the weeds will begin channeling their nutrients down into their roots to prepare for winter. This is great, because an herbicide sprayed on a weed at this time will naturally be channeled down into the weed’s root system, killing the entire plant.

Proper lawn maintenance will help prevent re-invasion. Most people do not want dandelions so they mow them, which gets rid of them for a short time, but in many cases, spreads dandelion seeds, creating a bigger problem. Mow grass to a height of 2.5 – 3 inches. Leaving the grass higher will provide more competition for the dandelions to germinate. Fertilize grass when it is actively growing (June) and, if needed, after it has started to go dormant for the year (October). Water deeply but only when needed throughout the growing season.

Read and follow all label directions when making any chemical application. Also, understand the risks in making a chemical application and realize that chemicals labeled to be used to control dandelions can have negative effects on the growth and germination of trees, flowers, and gardens.

Pierce County Grazing Readiness Update: Week 5

Plant development is about 2 weeks later and 3-4 inches shorter than 2017. Pastures (predominantly smooth brome and crested wheat) are ready to be grazed in all the participating counties. In many places, rangeland (primarily western wheat and green needle) is beginning to reach grazing readiness. However, because of the drought and/or management, forage production has been diminished. Some grasses, such as Kentucky bluegrass and brome are even beginning to head out at 4-6” tall. Once a plant heads out it stops growing, so this is the maximum growth/production for that plant this growing season.

Grazing readiness for most domesticated pasture (smooth brome and crested wheat) is at the 3-leaf stage, whereas grazing readiness for most native range grasses (western wheat and green needle) is the 3 1/2-leaf stage.

While recent much needed rains have helped grass growth and most of the monitored species have reached grazing readiness in Pierce County, we’re not out of the woods yet- especially if drought conditions continue into June. With the stress of last year’s drought and overgrazing reducing this year’s forage production range specialists are advising a 10% or more decrease in stocking rates to allow grasses adequate time to recover.

For local grazing readiness pictures, visit our NDSU Extension Pierce County Facebook page at www.facebook.com/NdsuExtensionPierceCounty/ .

For more information on determining stocking rates and managing drought, contact your county office of NDSU Extension or check out the following NDSU Extension resources: “Determining Carrying Capacity and Stocking Rates for Range and Pasture in North Dakota” at tinyurl.com/CarryingCapacityStockingRates; “NDSU Grazing Calculator” application free at tinyurl.com/apple-NDSUgrazingapp or; “Strategies for Managing Drought in the Northern Plains” at tinyurl.com/DroughtManagementStrategies.

Schmidt is the NDSU Extension agent for Pierce County.

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