The University of Arizona

Reclaiming Russian knapweed infested rangeland.

L.J. Benz, K.G. Beck, T.D. Whitson, D.W. Koch


Russian knapweed [Acroptilon repens (L.) DC.] is a creeping, perennial, unpalatable, noxious weed that infests thousands of rangeland and pasture hectares in the western U.S. often forming monocultures. Chemical or mechanical control of Russian knapweed usually is temporary allowing re-invasion or the weed over time. Our objective was to determine whether combining chemical or mechanical methods with seeding of perennial grasses would reclaim Russian knapweed infested areas more effectively than any of the treatments applied alone. Five suppression treatments combined with 5 seeded perennial grasses were evaluated to reclaim Russian knapweed infested site. Two years after suppression treatments were done, clopyralid + 2,4-D + seeded grasses controlled 66 to 93% or Russian knapweed whereas clopyralid + 2,4-D applied alone controlled only 7% of Russian knapweed. Glyphosate + 'Critana' thickspike wheatgrass [Elymus lanceolatus (Scribn. &Sm.) Gould] controlled 36% of Russian knapweed 2 years after treatment (YAT) while glyphosate + 'Hycrest' crested wheatgrass [Agropyron cristatum (L.) Gaertn.], 'Bozoisky' Russian wildrye [Psathyrostachys juncea (Fisch.) Nevski], or 'Sodar' streambank wheatgrass [Elymus lanceolatus (Scribn. &Sm.)] increased Russian knapweed growth 1.5, 2, and 1.6-fold, respectively. Glyphosate applied alone tripled Russian knapweed growth. Metsulfuron + streambank wheatgrass controlled 61% of Russian knapweed 2 years after treatments were applied while metsulfuron applied alone controlled 40% of Russian knapweed. Mowing was ineffective and mowing + crested wheatgrass increased Russian knapweed growth about 2-fold. Clopyralid + 2,4-D + streambank wheatgrass yielded 6, 48, and 18 times more seeded grass than metsulfuron treated, mowed, or non-treated control plots seeded with streambank wheatgrass. Clopyralid + 2,4-D + stream-bank wheatgrass, while expensive ($262 ha(-1)), was the best treatment combination because it controlled Russian knapweed effectively while the sod-forming grass established well and helped to prevent re-invasion by the weed.


mowing;Elymus lanceolatus;colonizing ability;2,4-D;sowing;costs and returns;clopyralid;sown grasslands;Psathyrostachys juncea;glyphosate;Acroptilon repens;Agropyron cristatum;weed control;seed germination;biomass;canopy

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