eradicating pokeweed

Asked August 28, 2020, 10:02 AM EDT

My wife is concerned that if we cut pokeweed off at the base it will spread underground? She thinks we need to dig every bit of it out around our ten acres! I think that's not necessary. Can't we just keep it under control by cutting it back?

Washtenaw County Michigan

5 Responses

Hello,

Pokeweed, Phytolacca decandra, can be hand dug or pulled when young , and dug when 1-2 years old. After that it will have developed such a large tap root that digging the whole root will be difficult. It can spread from nodules on the root, though not as aggressively as some more noxious weeds such as Japanese knotweed. The younger it is when removed, the easier the job. Of course, do not let it develop ripe fruit or set seeds as this is a common way it spreads..

Here is an article on homeowner control and one on field crop control. The field crop article has interesting information on the root the plant develops.

https://extension.psu.edu/common-pokeweed-identification-and-management

https://www.canr.msu.edu/weeds/extension/weed-control-guide/2019WG-pokeweed.pdf

This Ohio State guide indicates digging up the just below the soil, cutting off the major root crown, will control the plant- https://www.oardc.ohio-state.edu/weedguide/single_weed.php?id=112

thanks for your answer. the Ohio State site says, "For larger infestations, growing a cultivated crop for 1 to 2 years will help reduce common pokeweed populations."

What is recommended as a cultivated crop and how does that help to reduce populations?

Well, that is a farm crop question and I am a gardener. However, I would say the tilling of the fields, use of weed controls like herbicides and cultivating, coupled with crops competing with the weed would reduce the pokeweeds ability to take over. If you would like a referral to the group that supports small farming, just let me know. They could suggest what to plant.

since my question had to do with our ten acres, I assumed it would be directed to a small farm expert not a gardener. so yes, please send it to the small farming expert. thanks for your help.

The suggestions above are all very good. I think the recommendations in the MSU Weed Guide pdf are the first step. If you do not need to harvest a crop I would suggest spraying, tilling then planting cereal rye in the next few weeks then next spring just before the rye heads till it again and plant a sorghum/sudangrass. The rye and sorghum/sudangrass are very good at suppressing weeds when you have good stands. This time next year till the sorghum/sudangrass and plant rye again. The following spring your should be ready to plant a more permanent crop. There are other options if you are wanting to plant a crop to harvest. I hope this helps. Feel free to ask more questions or give me a call at 989-560-1371.

Regards,
Paul