Autumn Olive removal

Asked April 24, 2019, 11:00 AM EDT

I live on 5 acres with Autumn Olive bushes and am surrounded by hundreds of acres infested with them. What is the best way to manage or get rid of them? Is there any natural way? I have a lot of wildlife that eats from my land. Can herbicides poison rodents & rabbits that the Eagles eat?

Antrim County Michigan

1 Response

You have a huge job on your hands trying to remove autumn olives since you are surrounded by hundreds of acres of them! But perhaps you can get rid of those closest to your home and then annually survey to remove any strays. Be aware that herbicide permits may be required, as well as permission from other owners of the area.

Herbicides, like all pesticides, should be handled with extreme caution and respect. Carefully read and follow the instructions for use on herbicide labels. There are three important reasons for using pesticides safely and wisely:

• To protect yourself and others from exposure.

• To avoid harming and polluting the environment. (Yes, herbicides can harm or kill wildlife, especially smaller critters such as birds.)

• To avoid crop injury

These three points cannot be emphasized enough.

Each herbicide label contains specific information on personal protective equipment (PPE). Using more herbicide than is recommended on any label is illegal and can result in crop injury, herbicide carryover or other problems.

Autumn olives are good eating for birds and deer. The deer eat them because the berries have lots of lycopene and the deer know it makes their vision better. They eat them every year, you just never noticed them before! But after a short trip through their digestive systems, the berry was utilized, but the seed hit the ground to grow rapidly into an approximately 15-foot-tall bush. Autumn olive only takes two or three years before it began flowering and producing berries.

Removing bushes becomes more difficult as the bush size increases. Small ones can be pulled up or mowed several times a season. If the only method of attempted control is cutting them, new shoots are produced rapidly. Autumn olive isn’t killed; it’s just pruned.

After cutting large bushes, paint the newly-cut stump with glyphosate or a brush killer immediately. If new shoots appear later, spray them to kill them. The most successful method is to remove the autumn olive bush, roots and all. But beware, there is no such thing as a seed that doesn’t grow. So watch for more autumn olives growing now there is more sunlight.

The first link below will give you important information on autumn olive removal. The second link offers a novel approach to eradication efforts done by Ottawa County.

Autumn olive is unlikely ever to be completely eradication, and an infestation will affect the area forever. But any efforts taken to help are certainly well worth the effort.