By: Nadia Mori, PAg, Regional Forage Specialist, Watrous
Not only are noxious weeds like leafy spurge, common tansy and absinth wormwood increasing their foothold on hay and pasture land, there are also new weeds in town looking to take over your valuable forage and pasture stands. Downy brome, red bartsia and diffuse knapweed are three weeds to be familiar with and on the lookout for.
Downy brome (Bromus tectorum) – a Noxious Weed in Saskatchewan:
Downy brome is an increasing problem in the southern parts of Saskatchewan and is showing more frequent appearances northward in the province. Downy brome can germinate early in the season, establish a shallow but dense fibrous root system and complete its life cycle in a short amount of time. The common name downy brome refers to the fine hairs covering the leaves and inflorescence giving it a soft and “downy” feel before it hardens off. Another common name is Cheatgrass which was a name given by early wheat farmers who saw significant yield reductions and felt “cheated” by the weed.
Red bartsia (Odontites serotina) – a Prohibited Weed in Saskatchewan:
Red bartsia is an annual in the figwort family that was introduced to Canada in Manitoba in the mid-1950s at the Gimli Canadian Armed Forces Base through contaminated packing crates from Europe. Red bartsia has spread through large areas in Manitoba and could easily be introduced to Saskatchewan through hay transported into the province. It germinates late in the spring and grows slowly at first until rapid growth occurs in July. Both the leaves and stems are densely hairy. The dark pinkish-red to purple flowers appear typically between June and September. Red bartsia is able to quickly outcompete forage stands and is not palatable to livestock.
Diffuse knapweed (Centaurea diffusa) – a Prohibited Weed in Saskatchewan:
Diffuse knapweed is a biennial or short-lived perennial bushy herbaceous weed that grows about three feet tall. It has a greyish-green appearance with coarse leaves and branches. The flower cups have sharp, rigid spines on the bracts. The mature weed can break off at the ground and tumble along the ground in the wind, dispersing seeds over a large distance. Diffuse knapweed can reduce forage production by more than 88 per cent and has been found in central Saskatchewan.
Transport of seed facilitated by humans through foot and vehicle traffic but also equipment and hay transport plays a large role in the spread of noxious and prohibited weeds. Invasive weeds affect us all with their devastating negative economic impact. Early detection and rapid response is proven as one of the most cost-effective approaches.
For specific control measures of these and other weeds, please contact: