Skeleton weed control
We have 10 acres in Spokane county. It was overrun with Rush Skeletonweed (Chondrilla juncea) when we bought it. What is the best way to control (eradicate) this weed? What herbicide is recommended? When are the most effective times to spray? We are all on wells out her here. Is there any concern regarding the herbicides affecting our well water? Is there a homemade (organic?) herbicide option? Our plan for the land is to control the weeds and put down a dry grass seed that we can mow and compete against the weeds. Thank you.
Spokane County Washington
Hello and thank you for contacting us,
I'm sorry to hear about all the trouble you are having with Rush skeletonweed, there is a reason that 'weed' is in the name.
I'm not sure if you have a pesticide application license or not, and that certainly influences what products are available to you. I have two resources to recommend that I think will answer most all of your questions.
The Spokane County Noxious Weed board has lots of information about the best ways to manage Rush skeletonweed and experts that you can talk to on the phone at 509-477-5777, or email them from this site http://www.spokanecounty.org/formcenter/65/65.
Another good resource is a pamphlet published by the Lincoln County Noxious Weed Board found at this site: https://www.co.lincoln.wa.us/weedboard/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2016/04/rushskeletonweedoptions.pd...
What I like about this publication is that it lists organic options as well as chemical ones, and addresses your question about the safety of using herbicides near water (or over water in your case). It also tells you what doesn't work, like mowing.
The best time to control this weed is in the spring when it is at the rosette stage, before the flowering stem starts to grow, so we're coming into the right time of year.
I'm especially glad to hear that you plan to plant some competition for the weeds in the form of grass. Lots of folks win the battle against weeds with sprays, but then lose the war by not planting something to out compete them in the future. If you need more information about grasses for dry (unirrigated) areas, you can find it at this link: http://extension.wsu.edu/spokane/wp-content/uploads/sites/33/2017/07/C193-Grasses-for-Unwatered-Area...
I hope these resources give you what you need to get rid of, or at least get control of this weed. If you have any more questions, please feel free to contact the Spokane County Master Gardeners at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Best of luck!
Thank you very much!
You are very welcome, and please contact us any time!
Would a broad leaf herbicide be effective against skeleton weed?
Yes, most broadleaf herbicides will kill skeletonweed, especially in the spring before it starts to bloom. Be careful to read the label to prevent damage to other plants, and don't use an herbicide with residual soil activity. We don't want anything getting in your well water!
Thank you very much.