"The farmers I've been working with are primarily in the northern part of Illinois," Anderson said. Because of the weed's adaptation, Canada thistle needs a longer day, so it's not as much of a problem in southern Illinois, Georgia, Mississippi, or Alabama.
"I've seen some horrible fields in northern Illinois, just full of thistle. "The Sudangrass was planted on patches of ground where Canada thistle was prevalent, some larger patches and some smaller. That's one of the advantages to this is you don't have to devote the entire field to this." Masiunas stressed that the problem is usually found in patches. "What we're aiming at is to eliminate a problem in patches that occur in a field. Our purpose is not to manage Canada thistle on 100 acres but in areas that might be 100 square feet," he said.
"The hope is that the farmer would catch the Canada thistle in a relatively small patch in an intensively managed farm. If they're doing a lot of tillage, they're not going to have as severe a case of Canada thistle. If they're doing reduced tillage and staying on top of the weeds, they might have a small patch of Canada thistle, but it shouldn't have taken over a whole field."
Anderson said that some of the farms he has been working with also have a livestock component. "The Sudangrass can be mowed and left as a smother crop, or it can be grazed," he said.
Is this a strategy that a conventional farmer would consider trying?
Masiunas said that conventional farmers might incorporate Sudangrass as an integrated pest management approach if they're trying to diversify their management strategies.
|Contact: Debra Levey Larson|
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences