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Early Detection and Rapid Response

While prevention truly is the best “medicine”, it is difficult to stop all new weed invasions. The next best step is to recognize potential weed problems early and control the weeds before the invasion gets too big to handle.

Picture of man pulling a weedEarly detection and rapid response are necessary to avoid weed reproduction and the development of a seedbank. The ultimate goal is to eliminate the weed species from the site. This can be a difficult task when target weeds have deep roots or extended seed dormancy. It is likely the weed population can only be minimized and contained. Effective control methods for fast, early response are mechanical removal of plants by digging and hand pulling, or herbicide treatment. Following treatment, sites should be monitored regularly to discourage missed weeds from reaching reproductive maturity.

Student with a book identifying a weedEffective early detection depends on the training of land managers, weed management professionals and property owners. It is also important for others using the outdoors for recreation to recognize weeds listed as noxious or invasive in the area. It is important to report suspicious plants to county weed officials and U.S. Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management (BLM) professionals.

Eradication efforts are usually limited to small infestations of less than 3 acres. This is one of the reasons early detection of invasion is so vital. Unfortunately, many current weed invasions are too large for complete eradication to be feasible. We can, however, help prevent new invasions from escalating to unmanageable levels.

-Man pulling weed: Public domain.
-Person identifying weed: Public domain.

Text references:
-Colorado Natural Areas Program. 2000. Creating an integrated weed management plan: A handbook for owners and managers of lands with natural values. Colorado Natural Areas Program, Colorado State Parks, Colorado Department of Natural Resources; and Division of Plant Industry, Colorado Department of Agriculture. Denver, Colorado. 349 pages.
-DiTomaso, J.M. 2000. Invasive weeds in rangelands: Species, impacts, and management. Weed Science. Vol. 48 No. 2 pp. 255-265.
-Guidelines for coordinated management of noxious weeds: Development of weed management areas. Center for Invasive Plant Management. Available: (http://www.weedcenter.org/management/guidelines/tableofcontents.html 17 October 2006).
-University of Nevada Reno. Cooperative Extension. Fact sheet 96-12. Available:(http://www.unce.unr.edu/publications/FS96/FS9612.pdf 17 October 2006).
-Zamora D.L., D.C. Thill. 1999. Early detection and eradication of new weed infestations. Pages 73-84 In R. L. Sheley and J. K. Petroff, eds. Biology and Management of Noxious Rangeland Weeds. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University Press.


Image depicting seeds going into a piggy bank