Weed hunting tips for fireweed, African lovegrass

Early detection and removal of problem weeds can save landholders a lot of money and time.  As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure.

Anyone who has managed weeds would agree that action sooner than later is best to prevent weeds establishing.  However, finishing the job thoroughly is also important because just one remnant weed can result in rapid reinfestation.

“Detection of problem species like fireweed and African lovegrass in low numbers is often difficult”, Ian Towers, a Director with Sustainable Agriculture in the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, explained.  “Fireweed’s yellow flower is often hard to distinguish at distance in a sea of yellow flowering plants common to pastures whilst African lovegrass, before it forms a tussock, is often not obvious.”

Unlike many other yellow-flowered pasture plants, fireweed does not close its petals at night (i.e., petal movements are not nyctinastic).  This means flowering fireweed can be spotted when other yellow flowers are closed.

“The trick is to search for fireweed in the early morning light before the first rays of sunshine touch the paddocks and cause other flowers to open.  Just look for yellow flowers and hone in to investigate – it may be fireweed. You might be surprised how effective this method is,” Ian said.

African lovegrass can be more readily detected at night by using vehicle headlights or a bright torch shone knee-to-waist height to scan across the pasture.

“The dark seed heads of African lovegrass appear stark at night and don’t blend in with the background as they appear to during the day” Ian concluded.

Good luck with new approaches to weed hunting.

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