Killing Goat Head Weeds & Seeds

Asked November 4, 2019, 9:11 PM EST

Dear Experts, I live in California’s Central Valley and due to the much needed heavy late rain, I have a bumper crop of goat head sticker weeds. More than I have ever seen in 20 years. Actually it’s one half acre of solid sticker weeds on bare ground. I should have pulled them while they were green but Due to a heart operation I didn’t. Now it’s too late because they are dry and the goat heads will fall off as I try to pick them up. They will just become planted seeds after discing. So I’m wondering how to kill the seeds before I disk the field. I plan to build on the property one day and I would like it to not be a goat head farm. My neighbor had a similar goat head issue. He used a propane blow torch hooked to a 20 lb. propane tank and walked around burning the dried weed and the goat heads as much as possible. I’m not sure if his method will work. What do you think of burning the seeds? What other methods can you advise me to try? The field is dry and hard at this time, but after we get some rain I will need to disk it to keep the weeds from growing. I have the bumper crop of goat head weeds because I didn’t disk after the early June rains, and I didn’t walk around and pick the small green weeds when they first sprouted like I usually do. I would be very grateful for any advice you can help me with. Respectfully Harold Harris

Kern County California

1 Response

You are absolutly right, they should have been pulled out . But that isn't the way life works sometimes. Burning the seeds will not get all of them. The ground has a remarkable ability to retain temperature. So unless you spend 30-45 seconds on every seed making sure it catches fire, then you are going to have a hard time killing them. Although taking a torch to the field may kill some of them, and it can be quite therapeutic to watch them go up in flames. Killing seeds is also dangerous, because a lot of the options that can kill a seed before it germinates is going to also sterilize your soil. Your easiest solution is to give the field a good watering, let the seeds germinate, and kill them all when they are young. there are several options with chemicals you can find here: https://pnwhandbooks.org/weed/problem-weeds/puncturevine-tribulus-terrestris . Goat Head has a bad rap for being hard to kill with chemicals because the leaves are so waxy that the chemical cannot penetrate through to have an effective kill. It is crucial that you apply when the seedlings are young and you use a good aduvant to help them stick to the plant better. If you don't use a sticker you will have a lot survive. Also, you may see them come up for a few years, because not all the seeds may germinate after the first watering. so it may be necessary to do this for a few years. Hope this helps! best of luck.