2019 MOSES Organic Field Day Recap


Organic Weed Management

Wednesday, June 12 |   5:45 – 8 p.m.  |  $20

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Big River Farms
 14220-B Ostlund Trail North
Marine on St. Croix, Minn.

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By Stephanie Coffman

At this Big River Farm field day we learned about some effective ways to organically control the especially invasive weeds quack grass and thistle. Here are some of the evening’s highlights:




1.  Quack grass and thistle both have rhizome roots, which grow horizontally under the ground and store the perennial plant’s energy. They are especially fast spreading if not managed right. Example: Tilling can actually spread these invasive weeds if it is not done correctly. Tilling up the weeds only one time will spread small pieces of the weed’s rhizome roots all over, which form several new weeds. However, if you till several times, over time, you slowly break down the energy stored in the root until it dies off. Presenter Annie Klodd, UW Extension educator, shared 8 “tools” to help combat these fast spreading, perennial weeds.


2.  When using the mowing technique on thistles, wait until the weed has formed a flower bud to mow. At that time most of the weeds energy is in the plant, not the root. This leaves little energy in the root to grow a new weed. You will need to mow more than once a season, but eventually fewer and fewer thistles will come back.


3.  Using cover crops to choke out weeds is another tool you can use. Big River Farms has used this “tool” on some of their vegetable bed walkways and borders. Presenters are looking at a walkway recently seeded with grass and clover seed.



4.  Another tool is flame-weeding. Big River Farm Director Molly Schaus demonstrated how to properly use a flame weeder, using quick but controlled passes. The technique is not to incinerate the young weeds, but heat the weed cells up so hot they burst.


5.  Black plastic and straw mulch are other tools that Big River Farm farmers use for weed management.





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