We’re in the weeds this summer
By Robin Bolson, Communications Coordinator
It’s finally summertime – both officially and weather-wise – but the wet winter we just experienced has brought us some unwelcome guests – an abundance of weeds. In Somersett, as is the case nearly everywhere in the West, cheatgrass is the No. 1 offender. We’ve also noticed the noxious weed thistle, especially in empty lots.
Here is a quick look at a few of the “Most Not Wanted’’ weeds in our area.
Cheatgrass, native to Europe and Asia, made its way to Nevada in the early 1900s. Since then this annual menace has become one of the most common plants in the state.
Most of the weed violations issued recently in Somersett have been for these voracious invaders. If the cheatgrass on your property is still green or reddish-brown, it’s OK to cut it with a string trimmer and rake, although be careful because the plants are likely to be already extremely flammable. Once they turn brown, it’s best to carefully pull them up by hand and place them in a sealed plastic bag in the trash to prevent seeds from spreading.
Next year, be sure to use a pre-emergent herbicide in early spring since cheatgrass’ superpower is that it germinates before native plants and chokes them out before they have a chance to get started.
There are several types of thistle on Nevada Department of Agriculture’s list of noxious weeds. Believe it or not, the thistle is a biennial in the sunflower family, but this purple-flowered plant is no shrinking violet. It has sharp spines and each plant produces between 5,000 and 50,000 seeds, which blow far and wide on Nevada’s summer winds.
Before it flowers, thistle can be killed with herbicide. Otherwise, dig up the plant with 2 inches of root and dispose of it in a sealed plastic bag in the trash.
One more invasive plant worth mentioning is foxtail (hare barley), which can be extremely dangerous to pets, especially dogs. Foxtail seeds are like porcupine quills. Once they attach to your pet’s fur, they could move deeper and deeper into your pet’s body, causing severe injury.
Right now the spikes are starting to dry out and release their barbed seeds or “foxtails.’’ If you see this plant in your yard, remove it promptly by digging it out. Mowing or weed trimming are not effective in controlling these plants because it just encourages them to grow close to the ground.
This time of year, use caution when allowing your dog to run in dry grasslands and open spaces. When you get home, brush your dog thoroughly, inspecting the ears, under the collar, between the toes and in the armpits where foxtails cling. Nooks and crannies of genitals are also problem spots.