News Flash

Arapahoe County News

Posted on: April 28, 2021

Canada thistle is coming to dominate your yard


Now's the time to plan your counterattack!

Spring is slowly breaking free of winter. The weather is warming up just enough for Canada thistle to rear its ugly head. This invader, which dates to the early 1900s, is one of the most common noxious weeds here. Our environment provides ideal growing conditions. It can dominate barren rock beds, distressed lawns, healthy pastures, rangelands and even cropland. It’s extensive underground root system, vigorous growth habit and excessive seed production gives it a competitive advantage. A single plant can take over an area three to six feet in diameter in less than two years!

Here are characteristics of Canada thistle:pic_canada_thistle_1

  • Leaves are dark green with a silvery underside and have numerous small spines along the outer edges
  • Leaf shape will vary from oblong to lance shaped
  • Flowers are small, about ¾-inch in diameter and are pink to purple in color
  • Perennial growth habit, able to reproduce by roots and seeds
  • Roots have a fleshy appearance and can grow to depths of six to 15 feet
  • Overall plant height will range from one to five feet
  • A unique characteristic is there are both male and female plants and must receive 12 hours of sunlight to flower

There is Hope

Even though it has been around a long time, small or large infestation can be controlled by being persistent. Any of the following methods can be successful on their own but when dealing with large infestations, multiple methods should be used. 

Available Control Methods:

  • Mechanical: Mowing should begin in May and repeated every 14 to 21 days until frost. Digging, pulling, or cultivating should begin in April and repeated every 14 to 21 days until frost.
  • Chemical: Sensitive areas, two pounds of 2,4-D per acre (Spring and Fall) and non-sensitive areas, one quart. Tordon 22k (Restricted Use Pesticide), or 2 quarts of Banvel per acre (Spring or Fall), or seven ounces per acre of Milestone (Summer or Fall)
  • Cultural: Alfalfa and Western Wheatgrass compete very well.

If you have any questions, we’re here to help. Contact Arapahoe County Weed Control Specialist Russell Johnson:

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