County in campaign to root out weeds

The County of Stettler is continuing its war against noxious and prohibited noxious weeds, sending out letters

Yellow toadflax

Yellow toadflax

The County of Stettler is continuing its war against noxious and prohibited noxious weeds, sending out letters to property owners to join in the fight against the invasive, troublesome growths.

Absinthe wormwood is one plant that has only recently been added to Alberta’s noxious weed list, and this is the first year that the county has been actively seeking to eradicate the growth. Overall, support from property owners has been overwhelmingly positive, according to Jay Byer, assistant director of agricultural services with the county.

“We’ve seen significant signs of absinthe wormwood,” Byer said. “People are being very proactive about helping remove the plant.”

The invasive weed, which is rather odiferous, was likely originally imported as a decorative plant due to its pretty silvery-green leaves.

The letters sent by the county ask property owners to help keep noxious weeds from going to seed, which in turn helps prevent it from spreading. However, since the weeds are not prohibited, it is the choice of the property owner – though Byer said it makes sense for owners to comply since the weeds are often detrimental to farming or ranching, or to natural flora.

Control can take many forms, he noted. If the plant hasn’t flowered, owners can just continue to mow the plant down. This prevents it from growing seeds and from spreading, though the original weed often grows back.

When there’s limited infestations, people can often pull the weed by hand, though it’s a bit laborious at times.

However, if the infestation is wide spread, sometimes a chemical solution is the only way to control the spread of weeds. The county is available to offer advice in weed control if owners aren’t certain how to proceed, Byer mentioned.

Prohibited noxious weeds are another story, however. These invasive plants are very harmful to the natural flora, farming or ranching and the county is under a legal obligation to remove them to prevent their spread. Some of these weeds can by physically harmful to humans, so before removing any by hand, property owners should ensure the weed won’t cause harm.

In addition to absinthe wormwood, the county has marked some residual patches of scentless chamomile to be removed. The county and property owners pitched an effective battle against the noxious weed, cutting back on several acres of property infested with the pretty but invasive plant.

Now that August is here, the noxious weed to keep an eye on is yellow toadflax. The pretty but perennial weed looks much like a snap dragon but has two-toned yellow leaves. It spreads quickly and is very persistent, and needs to be pulled.

Byer said that while people are being proactive about yanking the weed, progress is perhaps “not as fast as we’d like to see.”

Hail, hail, hail

This summer’s wacky weather continued, with thunderstorms on Friday and Saturday night bringing in hailstorms. Though it’s too early to tell, a hailstorm early Saturday morning resulted in about forty minutes of hail hammering the area along Highway 12, with reports suggesting hailstones as large as dimes and, though rare, some as large as golf balls.

Byer said that as crops mature, there’s less chance for recovery before harvest, and that while reports aren’t in from the hail near Botha, he’s expecting the storms have done some decent damage.