Control of Reed Canary Grass


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Presentation on the methods used on Ted Shanks CA to control the invasive reed canary grass.

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  • Today I will talk about: A brief background on the life history of RCG History of RCG at Ted Shanks The control efforts at Ted Shanks And the lessons we have learned
  • RCG is: A invasive perennial grass It prefers moist, drained soils It is heavy shade intolerant It was used for years for forage and erosion control. It was even planted at shanks years ago
  • Reed canary grass is: 1. cool season grass 2. First to grow in spring. I have seen new growth at Shanks come up from under ice 3. has 5-7 weeks of above ground growth and can be from 2 –9 feet after this growing period.
  • By mid June the seeds ripen and produce around 600 seeds per stem No time or temp for seed germination Seeds can float for several days And germination requires light on moist soil
  • Most germination takes place in late summer. Seed longevity is questionable and Seed is not viable after 2 year of saturation. So you can kill it with water BUT At shanks we are focused on producing high quantities of food on a yearly basis so we don’t keep areas flooded for a long period of time during the growing season but it works.
  • Reed canary grass is a clonal plant. It has low energy reserves in root system in May and June b/ of above ground growth and seed development. B/ of this Spring is a great time to attack plant
  • Late summer – early Fall, After flowering energy is transferred to new shoot and rhizomes development. This is a great time to disk up plants to deplete rhizomes and stimulate late season annuals or prepare ground for cool season cover crop.
  • Now lets talk about the History of RCG on Ted Shanks Conservation Area
  • Ted Shanks is a 6705 ac wetland complex located in Pike County MO. It sits at the confluence of the Mississippi and Salt Rivers.
  • This is the lower 2000 ac Unit of Shanks called the Horseshoe Unit in 1980. Shanks had 2,800 ac of bottomland hardwood timber on it. 2000 in the Horseshoe Unit, which is owned by the COE And 800 ac in what we call the NS unit which is owned by the dept. The bottomland forest was established before the Lock and Dam system was build in the early 40’s. Due to the Lock and Dams system the river is now approximately 7 feet higher. As a result the trees had wet feet and began to die slowly. We saw evidence of this in early 80’s
  • Then came the 1993 flood. Water came over the levee July 1 st and did not recede until Sept. This was the final blow for the trees on shanks and created the perfect opportunity for the RCG to get established and go wild
  • This slide shows the decline in the timber. Some timber is still hanging on.
  • By 2003 almost all timber on the area was dead or dying. Yellow in picture is RCG!!!
  • This shows the RCG and dead timber and debris that we where left with
  • In 2005 we started a 3 year M & E Project. We studied the effects of three different treatment types: 1. Disk and cover crop 2. Disk and apply Herbicide. 3. Disk Only. 4. Control (no treatment) We chose these three treatments b/ one of our main goals at shanks is to provide high quantities of food every year for migrating waterfowl. Based off results from M & E we now utilize all three treatments on shanks yearly.
  • Call three treatment types had positive results on decreasing RCG Graphs show decrease in Stem density Key is to stress the plant during important life cycle stages We learned you have to keep the pressure on and repeat treatments for several years
  • Now lets take a closer look at the different types of treatments we now perform
  • Best on Monotypic Stands which is what we have at shanks. Advantages: depletes rhizome, chops up sod layer, Removes new growth, and stimulate soil for diverse plant response. We actively disk RCG at shanks every chance we get
  • After disking and green up has occurred, Herbicide kills any new growth. If not a Monotypic stand you can use a grass herbicide to just target RCG such as Poast Plant species left behind will aid in shading out the RCG and compete with the RCG for nutrients. If spraying field with round-up annuals that germinate after spraying assist in shading out the RCG and compete for nutrients Spraying herbicide. Timing is important: Before flowering and seed production and before transfers energy into root and rhizome production. Is best bang for your buck.
  • After Disking, cover crop takes advantage of multiple treatments: Cover crop provides Shading Herbicide treatment on Round-up ready crop kills present RCG Provides benefit to wildlife Also allows seed bank to respond and allows other plants to come up and compete with the RCG I feel you get longer lasting results from cover crop field due to multiple treatments you receive from establishing them. Disk Herbicide
  • I was really pleased with the results we got from planting winter wheat as a cover crop. You get all the results from disking the field several times thru out the season Wheat is a cool season grass and outcompetes the RCG Wheat is also allelopathic which aids in inhibiting RCG growth. Can get multiple year of treatment by second cropping wheat. Mowing wheat high after wheat has matured to replant field. If RCG comes back next spring it will be taller then other plants and can be targets with a wick applicator Benefits a wide range of critters
  • Fire is another useful tool Removes biomass and litter May kill seeds if fire is hot enough Fire stimulate rhizomes to re-sprout at which time you can spray or disk filed to cause further harm to the RCG plants Every important that you follow up with other treatments after burning!!!!!
  • So in Spring of 2004 we began a new campaign to fight the RCG. That year we burned large tracts to remove residual growth and expose debris in preparation for a clearing project
  • As you can see there was lots of debris
  • 2004 was the start of a funded project to remove debris. From 2004 thru 2007 we cleaned up over 1,400 acres
  • First year we disked the heck out of newly cleared ground
  • After heavy Rome disk we disked fields with smaller disk to further deplete rhizomes and to smooth fields
  • We disked every field up to four times the first year. We left some fields idle and planted some fields to winter wheat b/ we wanted to provide some benefit to wildlife.
  • Next few slides are of the same field showing a time line of treatments
  • Same field after clearing
  • Same field in process of being disked up. Once again this was helpful b/ if continued to assist in depleting rhizomes and stopping any above ground growth
  • Planted winter wheat in fall of 2004 to provide benefit to wildlife
  • What have we learned at Shanks: 1. You have to beat the crap out of RCG! You need to remove residual biomass and sod layer you need to exhaust RCG rhizomes by using multiple treatments over multiple years you need to Revegetate as soon as possible so other plants can compete with the RCG Make sure and keep Micro topography in mind. May have low wet portions in field that may be strong hold for RCG and may need additional attention Monitor your results
  • In closing: To be successful at winning the war on RCG you must have a integrated approach You must use several different treatment types for several years. In one word. Be persistent!!
  • Control of Reed Canary Grass

    1. 1. Control of Reed Canary Grass(Phalaris arundinacea) on Ted Shanks CA Ryan Kelly Wildlife Biologist Slides Compliments of Frank Nelson
    2. 2. Plan of Attack Background on RCG life history History of RCG at Shanks Control efforts at Shanks Lessons Learned
    3. 3. Reed Canary GrassInvasive perennial grass (wide genetic variability)Prefers moist, drained soils on altered or disturbed sitesriverbanks, wet meadows, marshland, mudflats, ditches, etcHeavy shade intolerant (early 1900’s agronomic trials)Used for forage and erosion control (MDC privateland grass list) Photos by: Stephen L. Solheim, Wisconsin State Herbarium & Jim Randall, TNC
    4. 4.  Cool season grass First to grow in spring 5-7 weeks of above ground growth 2-9 ft after this period Photo by: The Nature Conservancy
    5. 5. Mid-June the seeds ripen600 seeds/stem (Klopatek and Stearns 1978)No time or temperaturerequirement forgermination (Vose 1962)Can float for 1-2 daysGermination requireslight on moist soil
    6. 6. Most germination: Late summer and decreases next spring (Vose 1962, Lindig-Cisneros and Zedler 2002)Not viable after 2 years of saturation (Comes et al. 1978, Coops et al. 1996)The longevity of seeds is questionable Photo by Jim Randall, TNC
    7. 7. Clonal plantsLow energy reserves in May and Junebecause of above ground growth & seeddevelopment
    8. 8. After flowering, energy is allocated to tiller (new shoots & rhizomes) developmentNetwork of rhizomes forms 2-5 inch layer of sodAccumulation of carbohydrates highest duringfall below ground energy greatest during winter
    9. 9. History of RCG at Shanks Seeded on new wetland levees in late 1970s
    10. 10. Ted Shanks CAUSDA, PLANTS Database Canadian Wildlife Service Photo by: Barry Rice, TNC
    11. 11. 1980
    12. 12. GREAT FLOOD OF 1993 • Creates opportunity for RCG
    13. 13. 1997
    14. 14. 2003
    15. 15. SPRING 2004
    16. 16. M&E
    17. 17. M & E ResultsRainbow Field Central Field According to FieldHorseshoe Field
    18. 18. Examine Each Type of Treatment● Disking● Disking &Herbicide● Disk & Cover Crop● Fire
    19. 19. DISKING Monotypic stands Timing: Before flowering or Before fall senescence Moldboard plow or Offset disk initially + finish disk as needed in following monthsAdvantages: Removes new growth Chops up sod layer Depletes rhizome reserves Mixes seed bank
    20. 20. HERBICIDE Timing: Before flowering or Before fall senescenceBest bang for buck: Fall application, spring follow up Spot treat in cool season More than one treatment required Advantages: May allow sunlight to reach soil (sod layer?) Depletes rhizome reserves
    21. 21. COVER CROP Takes advantageof multiple treatments(Disking, shade, herbicide) Reduces RCG, yet provides wildlife value Allows seed bank torespond and come in under planted crop Roundup Ready Corn ® warm season crop, additional growing season required Winter wheat or rye cool season crop, following growing season
    22. 22. Advantages of Winter Wheat• Relatively inexpensive and easy• Cool season. Outcompetes RCG• Wheat is allelopathic• Can get multiple years from one planting by mowing wheat/second crop• Beneficial to wide array of critters
    23. 23. FIRE Removes biomass and litter Timing: Late spring May kill seeds (hot burn) Stimulate rhizomes to re-sprout Use with other management treatments Disadvantages: RCG benefits from high light conditions after burn Reduces RCG’s competition in mixed stands Timing and frequency is critical
    24. 24. CONTROL EFFORTS (2004) BURNING• Remove residual growth exposing debris• Only used during the first year
    25. 25. LOTS OF DEBRIS
    26. 26. DEBRIS REMOVAL• Approx. 1,400 acres cleared starting in 2004 and ending in 2007
    27. 27. FIRST YEAR TREATMENT• Heavy disking to breakup sod
    28. 28. FINISH DISK• Further breakup sod and deplete rhizomes• Smooth fields
    29. 29. FINISH DISK UP TO 4 TIMES IN THE FIRST YEAR• Leave fallow• Plant cover crop (winter wheat)
    30. 30. MARCH 2004
    31. 31. APRIL 2004
    32. 32. JUNE 2004
    33. 33. SEPTEMBER 2004
    34. 34. Lessons Learned Remove residual RCG biomass and/or sod Exhaust RCG rhizomes/ multiple treatments Revegetate as soon as possible Be cognizant of micro topography Monitor and quickly remove new invading populations to prevent their spread
    35. 35. INTEGRATED APPROACHSite CharacteristicsUtilize strengths and weaknessof treatments Cover Crop Disk + Wheat + Wicking Herbicide Mow + Fire + Herbicide Spring herbicide + Summer disking, w/ follow up herbicide next growing season
    36. 36. Good Luck