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Agronomy Day 2009

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Best Sustainable Management Practices for Perennial Weeds

Dan Anderson and John Masiunas
Research and Outreach Specialist and Associate Professor
Department of Crop Sciences
E-mail: and
Telephone: (217) 244-4469

Perennial weeds are especially challenging on sustainable and organic farms with reduced reliance on herbicides. Integrating cover crops, intensive tillage, and regular mowing can suppress perennial weeds but timing is critical.  Canada thistle management must be targeted at the bud-to-bloom stage when it has the least ability to regenerate from root buds. The objective of our project was to encourage adoption of integrated strategies to manage perennial weeds among farmers with reduced reliance on herbicides. The information and results from the farmer participates in 2008 was summarized and posted at <> In 2008, Dennis Norton, Royal Oak Farm, Harvard, IL, had problems with quackgrass and Canada thistle. He used a weed badger in apple and raspberry plantings without injuring them. Todd and Julie McDonald, Manteno, IL had problems with Canada thistle in one small area of the farm. They chopped out the thistle, tilled the area, and planted cereal rye. They reduced the thistle stand and plan on trying a sudangrass cover crop in 2009.  Tony Hulls, Carthage, IL had bull thistle. Mr. Hulls planted sudangrass in July and in the fall grazed cattle on the cover crop. The bull thistle did not reappear but he will continue in the project during 2009. Five other farmers participated in the study but were not able to fully implement alternative management strategies. We visited farmers earlier in 2009 and the farmers started the on-farm trials earlier. Sixteen farmers in are conducting on-farm trials to compare their current practices with sudangrass cover crops or other farm-dependent approaches.  The project coordinator has visited all sixteen farmers and discussed their trials. A second visit will be conducted during the fall to discuss the results. The on-farm, participatory research will continue in 2010.

Funded by the North Central Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program.

change and challenge