Aug 2012

Life Outside the City Limits

Collage of August 2012 Images

Managing Your Private Drinking Water Well During Drought
By Sharon Skipton, UNL Extension Water Quality Educator

Image of wellheadWhat can you do if your private drinking water well fails to provide an adequate water supply due to drought conditions? Private wells tend to be rather shallow in depth below ground, and shallow wells are more susceptible to adverse impacts due to drought. Most community wells are generally deeper, so a private well may have problems when a neighboring community supply, not far away, may be fine 

Groundwater levels in Nebraska can vary over time. Lower levels can occur during periods of little rainfall and warm temperatures. Periods of little rainfall reduce recharge to the aquifer. Warmer temperatures can cause an increase in vegetative evaporation and transpiration resulting in an increase in outdoor water use. This puts additional stress on the water system.

If you experience water outages, sudden drops in water pressure, air bubbles coming out of non-aerated faucets, or the water suddenly becomes cloudy or heavily silted, your private drinking water well may be having trouble keeping up with the water demand. Other problems associated with valves, waterlines, pumps, well casing, or pressure tanks can also cause some of these problems, so it is important to work with a State of Nebraska licensed professional to identify and mitigate the problem.

In some cases the problems mentioned above may only occur when water is being pumped from the well continuously for a period of time. This may be during periods of water use for irrigation, showers, or clothes washing. Under these conditions, you may be able to continue using the well by initiating water conservation measures and spreading out the timing of water use so that high water use activities do not occur at the same time.

In extreme drought, consider allowing Kentucky bluegrass and buffalograss lawns to go dormant. Irrigate only if no rain is received for 3 weeks. Minimize foot traffic and mowing on dormant turf. Tall fescue lawns do not recover well if allowed to go dormant in severe drought conditions. If you continue to irrigate your lawn, water to the bottom of the roots. Use a screwdriver or soil probe to determine how deep the roots are and how far the water has soaked in. Try to keep the soil moist about ½ inch deeper than the deepest living roots. Water in the morning (4 to 10 am) to minimize evaporation.

Mulch garden plants to reduce evaporation and weed competition for available soil moisture. Irrigate woody plants deeply and infrequently. Use a soaker hose or drip system and water in the morning to minimize evaporation.

Take quick showers and try to schedule showers during periods of low water use. A quick shower uses less water than a bath.

When washing clothes, do only full loads. Washing a few full loads typically will use less water than doing several small loads. Adjust the water level to the soil level.

In addition, you might replace your pressure tank with a larger one or install a second tank to provide additional water storage. For a well with a slow recovery rate, the additional storage can reduce demand on the well during high water use periods by storing water extracted during lower use periods.

When drought persists, the water level in a well can drop below the submersible pump or pump intake, causing a loss of water. Shallow wells are more susceptible than deeper wells. It may be possible to lower the pump or pump intake within the existing well, although this might provide only a temporary solution. A more permanent solution might be achieved by deepening the existing well or drilling a new well. Work with a State of Nebraska licensed professional to determine the best solution for your situation.

Some information was adapted from the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services Fact Sheet WD-DWGB-1-16 and the Pennsylvania State University Extension publication "Managing Your Well During a Drought." Landscape water conservation information was provided by UNL Extension Educator John Fech.



Weather Making for Early Weaning Crunch Time
By Jill Zimmerman, Kansas State University Extension in Cowley County

Image of Cow and calvesWith the hot, dry summer currently being experienced throughout the Midwest, traditional weaning plans may need to be significantly altered. Cows are out of grass in many areas, and grass is extremely short in others. Early weaning of calves should be strongly considered.

Considerable research has shown that it is a much better use of resources to wean the calf early and either sell or feed the calf rather than try to feed the cow enough to sustain lactation through a drought. It will hold feed costs down both now and this winter when producers are trying to get cows in condition to survive the winter, calve successfully, and be in reasonable body condition score (BCS) to breed back next year. Many cows may be close to drying up on their own because of the lack of feed, so the primary thing they may be providing is merely companionship for the calf!

Early weaning means lighter weights, a change in management, extra planning, perhaps additional facilities, feedstuffs, health concerns, etc. The calf is drawing nutrients from the cow, and drawing down her body condition during a time when the range is incapable of providing nutrients to replace body condition. Supplemental feed is expensive to use to replace those stores.

Pulling the calf off early will allow the cow to dry off and use what little nutrition is available through range and supplement to replace precious lost stores. There is abundant time to regain body condition prior to spring calving, and supplementation can be adjusted based on range conditions and winter weather.

If calves are at least 90 days of age, they can be removed from the cow and survive - even thrive - in a feedlot environment. If facilities and feedstuffs are available, three scenarios are available: calves can be cost-effectively grown to a similar weight this fall as would be expected during a "normal" weaning situation; the calves can be retained through the fall and sold as feeders in the spring; or the calves can even be retained through finish.

One common concern is that of immune function of the calves. The health of early-weaned calves is at least equal to their normally weaned counterparts. In some cases, immune function may actually be improved due to residual circulating maternal antibodies from colostrum and improved weather conditions during summer instead of during a cold, wet, fall. Granted, weaning during extremely hot, dusty conditions can also contribute to stress and health challenges, but the risk is no greater than during normal fall weaning. Proper preparation of the calves two to three weeks prior to weaning can minimize some of the risk. These procedures may include:

  1. Creep feeding in order to shore up areas of potential under-nutrition, including energy, protein, vitamins, and minerals.
  2. Pre-conditioning vaccination.
  3. Deworming.

"Soft" weaning may also be considered, which can be accomplished by either (1) use of nose clips which prevent the calf from nursing or (2) by fence line weaning where cows and calves may continue nose-to-nose contact but the calf cannot nurse. This removes the nutrient drain on the cow by the nursing calf but eliminates the added stress of abrupt and complete separation.

We can't escape an occasional drought, but we can manage our way around the drought and reduce the negative impact. With a little advanced planning, early weaning can be accomplished and the herd set up to recover more quickly once it finally starts raining again!

Source: Feedlot Facts & Beef Tips, Reinhardt, Hollis




This month's features include information on county fairs, snakes, home security, and drought-tolerant grasses for your yard.

Attend your county fair to see what area youth are doing!


Dennis Ferraro, University of Nebraska Extension, shares his passion - snakes. He describes some that are commonly found in Nebraska.


Home security when you will be away from your home is covered by Kathleen Cue, UNL Extension.


Are you tired of dealing with a lawn that can't handle the heat and drought? John Fech, UNL Extension, tells of 3 types of grasses you might consider if a lawn replacement is in your future.

Be Smart and Stay Hydrated to Beat the Heat
By Lisa Franzen-Castle, UNL Extension Nutrition Specialist

Image of water bottleWhether you're jogging, playing basketball, going for a walk or working outside, it is important to be smart about staying hydrated when temperatures are on the rise. Water is an essential nutrient, meaning it must be supplied from an outside source because the body cannot make sufficient amounts. If you exercise or work outdoors in hot weather, it is important to stay hydrated. Cool water between 40º and 50º F is best. Don't wait for thirst to indicate dehydration; drink ahead of your thirst.

Tips to Stay Hydrated:

  • Watch for warning signs. During hot weather, watch for signs of heat-related illness, including muscle cramps, nausea or vomiting, weakness, headaches, dizziness, and/or confusion. If these symptoms develop, lower your body temperature and get hydrated. Stop what you're doing and get out of the heat. Remove extra clothing or sports equipment, drink fluids, and try fanning your body or wetting it down with cool water.
  • Water recommendations. The human body is made up of 60-75 percent water and unlike other nutrients there isn't a specific daily recommendation, due to variability in climate, physical activity level, state of health, and body size. Under typical circumstances, adults should get up to 6 or 8 cups of fluid daily. Infrequent urination or dark yellow urine may indicate you need to drink more fluids.
  • Sources of water. Beverages, fluids, and solid foods contain water. Lettuce, celery, and crisp vegetables are 90 percent or more water. Meat, fish, or chicken may have up to one-half or two-thirds their weight in water. Grain products may be up to one-third water. Even though solid food is a source of water, additional water from drinking fluids is still needed. Water, juices, milk, or other beverages can boost fluid intake.
  • Special hydration considerations. In hot weather, fluid intake and output should be carefully monitored with infants, young children, and older adults. Children have a lower sweating capacity and tolerate high temperatures less efficiently. In older adults, their thirst mechanism may not be as efficient and medications and disease may affect fluid intake and water balance. Encourage water intake often for both the young and the old.
  • Hydration and athletes. Of all nutritional concerns for athletes, the most critical is adequate water intake. The athlete's immediate need for water is to control body temperature and cool working muscles. To prevent dehydration during exercise, athletes should drink fluids before, during, and after activity. Even exercise in cold weather produces sweat and requires adequate fluid replacement.

The combination of hot, humid temperatures and being physically active outside, whether for work or for play, can put people at risk for dehydration. Remember to keep water handy and make it habit to drink water every day. Sipping throughout the day is better than saving up for scheduled meals or breaks. Check out for more food, nutrition, and health information.



Egg Cleaning for the Backyard Flock
By Kody Sok, UNL Extension Poultry Assistant, and Sheila Purdum, UNL Extension Poultry Specialist

Image of dirty eggsProducing your own eggs can be a rewarding part of raising your own chickens. However, household poultry flocks can produce a high percentage of dirty or tainted eggs (Figure 1). Most of these eggs are soiled because they were laid in dirty nests or on the floor where they may have come in contact with fecal matter. Dirty eggs can be a health hazard if they are not properly washed and sanitized (i.e. harmful bacteria can enter through the pores of the eggs and if not cooked properly have the potential to cause food poisoning).

Prevention is the best control to reduce the number of dirty eggs. Most eggs coming from nests should be clean if the nesting materials are kept clean. The production of floor eggs can be minimized if the flock is trained early to use its nest boxes. When the pullets are 16-18 weeks of age, start introducing nest boxes and make sure to add bedding material such as straw, wood shavings, etc. to the bottom of the nest boxes. By week 20, a few fake eggs can be added into the nests to train the hens displaying nesting behavior to use the nest box. Some notable nesting behaviors are: pacing with the vent low to the ground, acting like she is looking for something or sitting tight in a corner. The hen can be caught and placed in a nest. She may or may not stay when placed there, but she will know that there is a nest. Hens like a little privacy in which to lay an egg. There should be a nest available for every four to five hens.




August Landscape Notes
John Fech, UNL Extension Horticulture Educator

Image of Shrub RosesAt this point in the acreage landscaping season, reflection on the developments of the year and a look forward to the fall is called for. Many facets should be considered, including the following.

SUN/SHADE: To determine the right plant for the right place, choose shade loving plants for areas that receive less than 2 hours of direct sun each day and sun-loving plants for sites that receive 6 or more hours of direct sunlight. If plants are struggling, replace or re-locate them.

WOOD CHIP MULCH conserves soil moisture, reduces weed seed germination and provides a good growing environment for plant roots. A two to three inch layer is appropriate for most woody plants. Shredded corncobs, newspapers, grass clippings and the like are useful in the veggie garden.

TURF provides a quality recreational surface, reduces soil erosion, reduces stormwater runoff and recharges groundwater supplies. Reconsideration of the size of the turf area is wise at this point of the season.

Incorporating COMPOST into soils creates a suitable growing medium for roots, improves the water holding capacity, increases porosity and boosts the microbial population. As new plantings of ornamentals and fall vegetable gardens are planned, take advantage of the benefits of compost.

Drought tolerant PERENNIALS live from year to year, require minimal maintenance and offer seasonal blooms. Acreage landscapes offer plenty of room for a diversity of perennials.

Image of Lamium groundcoverGROUNDCOVERS are low growing plants that offer choices for sites where most other plants will not grow well, such as in heavy shade and full sun. Groundcovers may be a better choice than turf in these areas, as well as on slopes.

Well placed ANNUALS provide splashes of color that maintain seasonal interest and focus attention on important garden features. Annuals usually require more maintenance and care than groundcovers and perennials, but provide appeal that cannot be matched by other plant groups.

SHRUB ROSES are easy to care for, provide height variation and season long appeal in the garden. Hybrid tea roses provide high quality blossoms and fragrance, but frequent pruning and pest control is usually required to be landscape assets.



Keeping Your Landscape Healthy During Drought
By Sarah Browning, UNL Extension Horticulture Educator

High temperatures and dry conditions have resulted in many lawns turning brown in the last two weeks, but all plants suffer during hot, dry conditions. With 11 days of 90+ degree heat between July 1st and 16th, and a 3 inch rainfall deficit in eastern Nebraska, plants are requiring much higher amounts of water than normal to maintain normal functions.

Knowing how and when to water, as well as setting landscape priorities can help you focus your efforts.


Drought affects on lawns have been dramatic in recent weeks. Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue lawns require 1 i

Image of Drought damaged turfgrass

nch of rainfall or water per week when temperatures are below 90 F degrees to maintain good growth and health. When temperatures are between 90-100 F degrees 1.5 inches of water is required. Right now, more than 1.5 inches of water each week may be required to keep plants growing normally, depending on soil type, sun exposure and wind.

Monitor the output of your irrigation system by using empty coffee cans, tuna cans or other straight-sided containers to measure the amount of water sprinklers put out in a certain amount of time, and adjust the run time so the required amount is delivered. After irrigating, determine how deeply the water has infiltrated by sticking a screwdriver in the soil.

Here are a few tips to help your lawn survive the hot, dry conditions.

Inspect your irrigation system. Make sure all sprinkler heads are working properly, and adjust the sprinkler pattern as needed to cover dry spots.

Sharpen your mower blade. A shape blade creates a small wound when the leaf blades are cut, which translate into less water lost through the wound and lowers the incidence of fungal infections.

Drought Stressed Tall Fescue turfRaise your mowing height- slightly. A slight increase in mowing height, approximately 20%, allows more leaf canopy to remain and shade the grass crowns, which can help them survive. Just don't go too high, because more grass leaf blade equals more water required. Recommended mowing heights: Kentucky bluegrass lawns 2.5 - 3 inches, and tall fescue lawns 3 - 4 inches.

Mulch the lawn. When mowing allowing the grass clippings to remain on the lawn, where they will filter down to the grass crowns and provide moisture-conserving mulch.

Allow your lawn to go dormant. Consider allowing certain turfs, such as Kentucky bluegrass and buffalograss, to go dormant. Since dormant plants are more easily damaged by traffic, limit foot traffic and mowing on dormant turf and apply 1/2 inch of water per week if no rain falls for three weeks to keep the dormant plants alive. Tall fescue does not the ability to go dormant; if it turns brown due to drought, it is dying.

Reseed. If your lawn suffers plant death and thinning due to drought, plan to aerate and overseed the lawn from late August through mid September.

Trees & Shrubs

Drought stress on Buckeye treeDrought stress is often slower to appear in woody plants, but can have long-term consequences. Drought stressed trees are more susceptible to secondary attack by insect pests and disease problems, such as borers and canker dieases, which can cause tree death.
One common symptom of drought stress is leaf scorching, a uniform yellowing or browning of the edges of leaves on broadleaf plants or the tips of evergreen needles. However, even trees that don't exhibit leaf scorch can be experiencing drought stress, and once a tree is stressed it takes 3-5 years of normal moisture conditions before the tree recovers its full vigor. Healthy trees, receiving adequate water, are much more resistant to pest problems.

How Deep Are Tree Roots?
To water properly, its important to know where, how much and how often water should be applied to established landscape trees. Water should always be placed where the roots are growing. Research shows more than 70 percent of tree roots are in the top 24 inches of soil, where the water, oxygen and nutrients they need for healthy growth are available. Water placed below 24 inches cannot be absorbed by the roots.

One mistake frequently made by homeowners with in-ground irrigation systems, is watering too often. Applying a light application of water daily or every other day results in a shallow layer of continually saturated soil. It also drives oxygen out of the underlying soil, resulting in severe root decline or death. Frequent, light applications of water is one of the most common causes of tree death.

Drought Stressed pine treeWater requirements for trees vary by species, size of tree and soil type. Of these, soil type is the greatest factor in watering frequency and amount. Sandy soils absorb water quickly and release it easily to plants, but the amount of water sandy soil can hold at any one time is low. Clay soils can hold a lot of moisture, but absorb water slowly.

Sandy Soil
It is almost impossible to overwater trees in sandy soil, though it is wasteful. When too much water is applied to sandy soil it drains quickly through the soil and isn't available to tree roots. Frequent watering in low amounts is the best way to water trees in sandy soil. Ideally, soil should be moist 18 inches into the ground for as long as the tree is growing. Watering every five to seven days may be necessary for trees in sandy soils to maintain adequate moisture in high temperatures and high winds.

Clay Soil
Proper watering can be difficult in clay soils because water often doesn't easily enter the small pores spaces in clay soils, so it percolates into the soil slowly. Water applied too quickly to clay soils runs off and is wasted. However, once clay soils are wet they hold moisture for long periods of time. Deep, infrequent applications of water are recommended for clay soils. To avoid water runoff, apply water slowly. When using an irrigation system, cycle through a few zones once, then cycle through them a second time in the same day to achieve a deeper level of watering.

If using a sprinkler, let it run in a low pattern in one area until the top 12-18 inches of soil is moistened then move it as needed to water the entire area underneath the tree's canopy. A deep soaking every 2 weeks is adequate for most trees in unirrigated landscapes.

Finally, make sure trees and shrubs have a 3-4 inch layer of wood chip mulch to hold moisture in the soil.



Fall Webworm
By Sarah Browning, UNL Extension Horticulture Educator

Image of Fall webwormLate summer and fall is the season of fall webworm. Fall webworm attacks many hosts, over 85 known species of deciduous trees, including elm, hickory, pecan, plum, chokecherry, poplar, walnut and willow. In fact, almost all fruit, shade and ornamental trees, except conifers, can be affected by fall webworm. A similar insect, called Mimosa webworm, is very common on honeylocust.

Homeowners often spot fall webworm as they enlarge their silken webs in late summer. Adults of this native insect are white moths, with reddish-orange front legs and a 1.25 inch wingspan. Immature insects are pale yellowish caterpillars with red heads and reddish-brown spots. An alternate color variation among the larva is yellow-green caterpillars with black heads a broad dark stripe on the back and black spots. The caterpillars have many long, fine hairs on their backs. There are one to two generations per year in Nebraska.

Adult moths emerge in late spring or early summer and lay eggs in masses on the undersides of leaves. The larvae emerge 10-14 days later and begin feeding in groups within a small webbed mass of leaves at the ends of branches. The webbing provides protection from some predators and the caterpillars feed inside the web until all leaves are devoured, then additional leaves are encased in the web. Webbed areas of leaves grow larger as the caterpillars mature, becoming a messy, ugly eyesore as it is filled with shed skins, excrement and leaf fragments.

The first generation of caterpillars matures in about six weeks. Then they drop to the ground and enter the soil, where they pupate into adults and re-emerge to lay eggs for the second generation. Some larvae may pupae under loose bark, in leaf litter beneath the tree, or within the webbing. Caterpillars of the second generation hatch and feed from approximately early August through late September. Then once again, the mature caterpillars drop to the ground and enter the soil to overwinter. Because the insects overwinter beneath host plants, trees that have been attacked in the past will very likely have insects the following year, too.

Although unsightly, feeding by fall webworms is rarely seriously damaging to large trees; however, several years of defoliation for small ornamental trees can weaken them. The web impedes most insecticides from reaching the insects, unless you can catch it early. One of the best ways to get rid of them is by taking a rake and breaking up the web. Or you can try a heavy stream of water to break up the webbing.

Many of the caterpillars will be knocked out of the web onto the ground, and will be killed by predatory insects. Biological insecticides such as Bacillus thurengiensis, B.T., or Dipel are also effective. Other insecticides, such as permethrin and bifenthrin, will also provide good control. Thoroughly cover leaves next to the nest, and as the larvae ingest the insecticide they will be killed.



Controlling Weedy Vines in Acreage Trees
By Sarah Browning, UNL Extension Horticulture Educator

Image of wild cucumberOne of the most difficult weed situations to deal with on the farm or acreage is weedy vines growing in hedges or trees. Wild cucumber, burcucumber, and honeyvine milkweed are the most common culprits. (Note: Field and hedge bindweed, and dodder can also be problematic, but will not be discussed here.) These plants shade the foliage of the host plant, and interfere with their ability to photosynthesis. This is especially damaging to evergreen trees, which don't tolerate shading well.

Weedy vines are most noticeable in late summer and fall after considerable growth has occurred. 

Annual Weeds
Native to the United States, wild cucumber and burcucumber are annual vines, found in the same plant family as cucumber and muskmelon, although neither produces edible fruits. Both grow from seed each year, and can be found growing wild in prairie ravines, fence rows, creek and stream banks, and ditches.

Wild cucumber (Echinocystis lobata), also known as balsamapple or mockcucumber, can grow 15 to 25 feet long. It has smooth stems and alternately placed, star-shaped leaves, each with 5 to 7 pointed lobes. Greenish white flowers grow on short stems arising from the leaf axils. The twining vines are aided in climbing by forked tendrils. It has oval fruits, up to two inches long, that are covered with sharp spines.

Image of burcucumberBurcucumber (Sicyos angulatus) vines can grow up to 10 feet tall. The alternate leaves are broad with three to five pointed lobes. The stems are slightly fuzzy and develop clasping forked tendrils, similar to grapevines. Both wild cucumber and burcucumber produce separate male and female flowers. In burcucumber, the male flowers are greenish-white to pale yellow growing on short stems, the female flowers are found in round clusters at the ends of short stems. Green to yellow fruits are covered with prickly bristles, and ½ to ¾ inches long.

Perennial Weed
Honeyvine milkweed (Cynanchum laeve or Ampelamus albidus) is a vining member of the milkweed family that can grow 6 feet or more long. It differs from wild cucumber and burcucumber, in that it is a perennial plant, growing back from the crown each year. Plants spread through underground rhizomes, and can regenerate if all the root system is not killed or removed.

Honeyvine milkweed has triangular, or elongated heart-shaped leaves located opposite each other on long, smooth stems. It may be confused with bindweeds or morningglories, but they have alternate leaves. Clusters of small white flowers are found in the leaf axils and develop into smooth, slender, elongated milkweed pods. When the pods mature and open, they release brown flattened seeds with silky white hairs.

Pre-emergent Control
Image of honeyvine milkweedWild cucumber and burcucumber seeds will germinate throughout the summer especially after rain, which makes periodic scouting and removal crucial for control. Scout areas with a history of problems, and pull or hoe weeds as soon as they emerge. In large areas, mowing can be effective. Repeated mechanical removal will prevent plants from producing additional seed and reduce weed pressure over time.

Simazine (Princep 4L) is labeled for preemergent control in shelterbelts to kill weed seeds as they germinate. Do not apply more than 4 qt. Princep 4L per acre (4 lb. a.i./A) per calendar year. Do not apply more than twice per calendar year.

Post Emergent Control
Glyphosate (RoundUp) can be sprayed or painted on small plants under trees to kill seedlings; it has practically no soil residual and if used carefully according to label directions will not damage desirable plants. DO NOT use Tordon or any product containing Dicamba, which have a period of soil residual activity and can move deeper in the soil to be absorbed by trees roots.

If weedy vines escape notice early in spring and grow up into trees, cut larger plant stems near the ground before plants begin to flower. DO NOT spray herbicides on vines in trees or hedges.



Fall Treatment of Phragmites
By Brent Meyer, Lancaster County Weed Superintendent

Image of Phragmites by streamThe Lancaster County Weed Department is currently having a signup for landowner's that would like to have their phragmites sprayed this fall by helicopter. Our goal is to work with each landowner to make sure all the phragmites in Lancaster County gets treated this fall. If you are aware of a patch of phragmites on your acreage and would like more information about helicopter treatment you are encouraged to contact our office.

Fall Treatment Options for Phragmites

  • Helicopter Application - Since some patches are only accessible by helicopter we had Lancaster County Purchasing department take bids to get the best possible price. The price of imazapyr (Arsenal or Habitat) chemical used to treat phragmites has come down since the 2009 application so we were able to get a bid of $200 per sprayed acre for application and chemical from Skycopters (all locations will be measured by GPS in the helicopter for accuracy of sprayed acres). This is the same applicator we have used for the last few years and has shown to be very cautious and accurate. The helicopter will be in the area sometime between mid to late August prior to killing frost. It will depend on their schedule. Contact our office so we can add you to the list to get the discounted rate.
  • Ground Application - Ground application may be possible for some locations and is acceptable if you notify our office this is your intent. Follow the control recommendations below for best results.
  • Cost of Application - It is the landowner's responsibility to control noxious weeds on their property and you will be responsible for the cost.

Image of Phragmites seedheadWhen and How to Control?
The best time to get control is when the patch is new and there are just a few scattered plants. Once it gets established it will form a dense circular patch that is very easy to spot, but control will become much more difficult and expensive. Multiple year applications will be required and it will need to be continually monitored for re-growth. Many landowners had applications in 2009 that are now showing re-growth. Spot treatment and follow up will be required by you next year to treat any areas missed. Research and field data results show that herbicide control with imazapyr (Arsenal or Habitat) has proven to be the most effective. Glyphosate (Rodeo or Roundup) will be effective, but does not have the residual that the imazapyr has. (Read and follow the label directions)

How to Identify
During the summer when everything it is green and growing it is difficult to spot phragmites until it heads out. Wetland areas typically occupied by cattails are great places to look for phragmites. Phragmites is a deep rooted perennial grass that will grow 6 - 15 feet tall and likes to grow in wetlands, around lagoons, near streams, creeks or in any area that may be wet for a period of time.

Image of Phragmites rhizomesHow does phragmites spread?
Phragmites will spread by seeds blown by the wind or moved by water. By underground rhizomes that if broken or cut and moved will start a new plant and also by stolons that run across the top of the ground and root down and send up new plants every few inches. Stolons can grow as much as 30 feet in one year.

Why should I be concerned?
Phragmites left untreated will create a monoculture and crowd out all other vegetation. It will eliminate natural refuge and feeding grounds for invertebrates, fish, waterfowl and limit recreation values for birdwatchers, walkers, naturalists, boaters and hunters. The tender-dry vegetation left in the fall creates the potential for fast-spreading fire that can threaten surrounding areas including homes and buildings. More information can be found on our web site in the Landowners Guide for Phragmites Control.

Contact Information
We need everyone's help, so if you would like more information on phragmites or would like to report an infestation contact the Lancaster County Weed Control Office.
Email: or phone 402-441-7817.