Meetings address hoary cress and grant funding |

Meetings address hoary cress and grant funding

Once the hoary crest, or white top, plants are mature, they are more difficult to control with herbicides, but mechanical and biological control methods can help slow the spread of this noxious weed. Photo courtesy S.D. Weed and Pest Board

The Butte County Weed and Pest board has again been awarded a grant from the South Dakota Weed and Pest Commission to assist with the management of hoary cress on private land in Butte county, in South Dakota. Informational meetings were April 9 at Nisland, S.D. and Belle Fourche, S.D., with area producers attending.

Hoary cress is a declared noxious weed in South Dakota and is spreading rapidly. It’s capable of lowering crop and pasture production as well as decreasing land values if an infestation gets severe. The weed is also called white top and is capable of spreading very quickly, even under adverse conditions.

The plant can grow to two feet tall and has clustered heads of white flowers, hence the name white top. It’s not generally palatable to livestock, but is harmful if ingested. The mouth and tongue of cattle or sheep that graze it become blistered and it is also passed through the milk, causing weight loss in calves and lambs.

Hoary cress sprouts in early spring, usually by mid-April, and grows rapidly. The plant grows close to the ground and is hard to spot until it sends up the stem and leaves.

“Escort XP is recommended for hoary cress, with some 2-4-D mixed in. Spraying it in early spring when it first sprouts is ideal.
Meghan Foos, agronomy specialist for Finkbeiner Feeds/CHS

Scouting pastures and fields for hoary cress is vital, as early application of specific herbicides is the best defense. Katie Conklin, DuPont range and pasture specialist, says, “Application timing of spray is critical as the smaller weeds, four inches or less, are easier to control. The active, early spring growth moves the herbicide to the root more efficiently.”

Mike Stenson, of the South Dakota Department of Agriculture in Pierre, S.D., works in Western South Dakota and presented a slide show to help with the identification of hoary cress. “Overgrazing is a big culprit in hoary cress invasion, along with soil disturbance,” says Stenson. He explained that herbicides are the best defense if the right one is used, but there are other means of aiding in control. “Mowing the plants to keep nutrients from reaching the roots and preventing flowering helps control it, as do biological means such as some beneficial bugs,” says Stenson.

Meghan Foos, agronomy specialist for Finkbeiner Feeds/CHS, Belle Fourche, S.D., says, “Lots of moisture this year could make it a big year for white top.” Foos showed a slide show that included photos of pastures with hundreds of acres completely white with hoary cress in bloom, demonstrating how imperative it is to control it when it first starts.

Foos says “Escort XP is recommended for hoary cress, with some 2-4-D mixed in. Spraying it in early spring when it first sprouts is ideal.” Escort XP can be used with no concern about haying, grazing or manure management.

Also recommended is the addition of Chaparral, Milestone or Banvel, a drift control agent, plus a surfactant. “Always use a surfactant. It will give you much more control.” Foos also said, “Higher than 7.9 pH soils will have a stronger residual effect so that’s good to keep in mind if you are going to plant later.” Foos suggested the use of Premier 90, a non-ionic surfactant and Gardian for the drift control, at a cost of about $1/acre.

Conklin explained the cost of weeds for the producers, plus addressed the actual cost of spraying. Multi-years of spraying is necessary to prevent the growth of seeds that have been carried over from years past.

Conklin also addressed the proper travel speed while spraying, whether with a backpack sprayer or ATV spray rig. Proper travel speed and mixing of spray is essential when applying, whichever method is used.

Producers at the meetings were able to fill out application for the free Escort XP, plus make contact with commercial sprayers if they are unable to spray for themselves. For more information on the grant-funded Escort XP and hoary cress, contact the Butte County Weed and Pest Board at 605-892-4414 or the Weed and Pest Office at Newell at 605-456-2887.

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