It's every cultivator's nightmare to see weeds in their well-planned curtilage. There are different types of weed, however, quackgrass happens to be the most infamous among all, typically known for its ability to grow rapidly within a short span of time. It is also extremely difficult to eradicate, testing one's patience and perseverance.
It is also known by different names such as, devil's grass, couch grass, twitch, scutch grass, quick grass, knot grass, witch grass, Agropyron repens, and Elymus repens; quite a bit of names for a grassy weed, don't you think? Well, the names are enough to describe the daunting nature of this grass. Did you know that this weed can reduce the yield of crops by almost 95 percent? Therefore, it becomes extremely important to get rid of it as early as possible, because once it grows along with the desired plants, it will become very difficult to successfully extirpate it.
What makes this grassy weed so stubborn in its growth, are its long-lived creeping underground stems (rhizomes), through which it rapidly spreads and grows, even when the climatic conditions may not seem as favorable. One plant is capable of producing approximately 300 feet of rhizomes each year! They are so strong that they can easily grow through an asphalt pavement. In areas where this weed grows without any interference, you can notice a 4-inch-thick mat formed at the surface of the upper soil. While most of us would think that mowing would be the best option, it's actually the worst. This is because it tends to spread the rhizomes and seeds of the plant to an extended area, enabling it to start growing over a vast space.
Although difficult, there are a few methods that will help you control the emergence of quackgrass. These are mentioned as under.
This is the most effective method of controlling weed infestation from the area. However, one needs to be extra cautious while using this means. Herbicide containing glyphosate such as, Monsanto Roundup―although effective―is highly toxic and should be applied to the blades of the unwanted plant only. If it comes in contact with other desirous plants, it may kill them as well. Which is why, this herbicide should be applied only when there is no wind, and when it will not rain at least for the next two days. Another point to be noted is that the rhizomes tend to become dormant during the initial application, but after some time, they start growing again within a span of a few days to a week. So, you need to reapply the herbicide at least 2-3 times for successful results.
One way to prevent the rhizomes from becoming dormant is to apply nitrogen fertilizers. This will boost their growth, thereby making the herbicide more effective when applied. This method will take time, probably 2-3 growing seasons, to completely make the area free from twitch.
This is one way which doesn't involve the use of toxic chemicals, but yes, it will definitely test your patience and perseverance. As we have already mentioned earlier, the long-lasting rhizomes tend to creep deep into the soil, containing buds that lead to the growth of this grassy weed within no time. While we have already said 'No' to mowing and rototilling, the option of uprooting this menace is a taxing, yet effective thing to do. Do not use a spade, opt for a garden fork instead. It is advised to dig the soil deep―up to 1 foot―and dig them out carefully, without breaking the underground stems in the ground. These need to be disposed off carefully, ensuring that they do not end up finding a way back to the area being treated.
Another effective way is to plant another crop that gives a tough competition to witch grass. Winter rye, crown vetch, and buckwheat, are some crops that prevent the growth of quackgrass by not giving it a chance to grow at all. Some garden plants such as pumpkin or squash would also help. This is a much more favorable method as compared to others, because not only does it suppresses the growth of weeds, it also improves the quality of the soil.
As cruel as this method may sound, it will need a combination of various methods to bring forth the desired result, and is best applied when the area doesn't consist of any favorable plantation. You can either cover the area with opaque plastic, especially during summers. This heats up the ground and kills the weed by solarization. Another option is to cover the soil with cardboard, or other ground covers. When the weed will not be able to grow, due to the absence of photosynthesis, they will eventually die. This process will take about 6-7 weeks. So, patience and time is needed.
During the process, you must remember a few basic points to help make your actions fruitful. These are -
✓ Undertake this task when there is no desired plantation in the land, to make the work comparatively easier.
✓ April is when quackgrass starts to grow. That is when the work should begin, to prevent massive infestation.
✓ For prevention, use weed-free seeds for plantation; ensure that the livestock feed doesn't contain quackgrass or its seeds.
✓ Dispose the remains of the unwanted plant carefully, ensuring that its seeds or rhizomes do not find their way back into your space. Carefully clean the equipment and tools used.
Getting rid of this menace is difficult, but highly essential as it tends to have a detrimental effect on the crop yield. While most people consider this task to be impossible, with the right approach and attitude, it can surely be accomplished. If you think you cannot do this task yourself, consider taking help of professionals in your area. Do not forget to do some research on their past work to determine their efficiency, and choose the provider that seems to have the maximum number of satisfied clients.