[Market-farming] Quack grass

STEVE GILMAN stevegilman at verizon.net
Thu Feb 19 14:22:13 EST 2009

Controlling quackgrass

This is from an ecologically-based weed management workshop that is  
based on a draft of a manual that is slated to be published in late  
2009 by SAN, the Sustainable Agriculture Network. its working title  
is “Manage Weeds on Your Farm: A Guide to Ecological Strategies” by  
Dr Charles Mohler and co-authored with Toni DiTommaso at Cornell  

Perennial weeds that propagate vegetatively may persist for years  
because they have buds on their roots or underground stems that  
sprout when the plant is damaged. The rhizomes of wandering  
perennials such as quackgrass are simply thickened stems that store  
nutrients horizontally underground, although they look more like  
roots than stems.

Roots and rhizomes form buds at regular intervals that remain dormant  
due to hormones that are released from the growing tip of the  
underground stems. As the distance between the buds and the growing  
tip grows longer, the hormone concentration diminishes so that the  
previously suppressed buds sprout and become a new above-ground shoot.

As anyone who has tried to tackle an area of quackgrass knows –  
initial tillage a good way to rapidly increase the number of shoots  
and thereby spread the plant. That’s because the cutting up of the  
roots and rhizomes by tillage releases the buds from their hormonal  
suppression, causing them to sprout.

But the sprouts have less nutrient reserves to draw upon from the  
segmented underground stems, and their growth is less vigorous. And  
this is the key to the control of wandering perennials. The ideal  
point to impact the plant is when the new emerging shoot has used up  
most of the reserves of the original rhizome fragment – and before  
the shoot forms new storage roots or rhizomes.

With quack grass the minimum size when the rhizome segment is at its  
weakest is usually reached when the shoot has formed three leaves –  
and that’s the key time for another round of tillage to finally kill  
the plant.

Hope this is helpful…

Steve Gilman
Ruckytucks Farm

On Feb 19, 2009, at 1:21 PM, market-farming-request at lists.ibiblio.org  

> Message: 4
> Date: Thu, 19 Feb 2009 12:40:38 -0500
> From: Pat Meadows <pat at meadows.pair.com>
> Subject: Re: [Market-farming] Quack Grass
> To: Market Farming <market-farming at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Message-ID: <u66rp4ho38tqo05gqgjv9vto2ntqh0sh4f at 4ax.com>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii
> On Sun, 15 Feb 2009 09:07:18 -0500, you wrote:
>> Once a week for the past two months I have been digging quack  
>> grass roots
>> out of my green house but this weed just keeps coming back. Can  
>> anyone tell
>> me how to get rid of quack grass.
> Sigh.  It's not easy.  It is terrible stuff.  We have it too.  It's  
> part of
> the reason (not the whole reason, but a good part of it) why I'm  
> gardening
> mostly in Self-Watering Containers now.
> I suppose Roundup would work if I could bring myself to use it.   
> Our place
> is only about 50 feet from a creek and we're uphill from the creek.  I
> don't know what Roundup would do to the life in the creek.  I don't  
> think
> it would help it, however.
> Pat
> -- 
> In Pennsylvania's Northern Tier, northeastern USA.
> Website: www.meadows.pair.com/articleindex.html
> What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide
> what kind of difference you want to make. - Jane Goodall

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