MCDONALD COUNTY, MO.--- McDonald County farmers only have a short time left to take care of musk thistles. They say this summer could be worse than last year. Earlier this summer, farmers saw nearly ten times more thistles in the county than normal. Now, experts are urging landowners to spray their thistles now before the problem starts to spread again.
"Our main infestation was over a 35 acre patch, and when you walk around over 35 acres, you cannot find them all with your visible eye," said Ted Barker, Cattle Farmer.
Ted Barker has been a cattle farmer in McDonald County for more than 40 years. He normally pulls or mows musk thistle, but this summer, the weeds got out of control and he used chemical control to finally get rid of the problem
"Spraying, in my opinion, would be the way to go," said Barker.
"Producers think that the cultural control is the only way to help reduce thistle, or the biological, or the chemical, but it takes a combination of the three in order to get a good control of the thistle," said John Hobbs, M.U. Extension Agriculture Specialist.
The tall thorny weed takes up cow grazing space and can limit how much livestock eat
"For a moderate stand of musk thistle, you lose about 25 percent production of your grass land. And that's like taking a quarter of your paycheck away from you every time you get paid," said Hobbs.
Agriculture specialists say late autumn is the proper time to get rid of musk thistles in pastures and grass lands due to good temperatures and lower grass.
"In the fall, about 70 percent of the seed will germinate, and the remainder 20 percent will germinate in the spring, and then 10 percent waits for the appropriate time," said Hobbs.
Experts are urging landowners to spray their thistles now before the flowers appear on the weeds, and before the seeds begin to spread.
"There's like 10,000 seeds that can come out of each plant. Which also, next year there's going to be a lot more, and it's also infesting your neighbors," said Barker.
If you suspect you might have a thistle problem, you can contact the University of Missouri Extension for more information at 417-223-4775 or you can email John Hobbs at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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