Recent History – 1999
July 2, 1999
By Kelly Henschel, Daily News Staff
It looks like there’s some bad news about those dandelions. With 15,000 seeds per plant, the bright yellow pest is here to stay, says Dennis Meier, weed contractor with the Peace River Regional District. However, he adds, there is hope that other unwanted plants which have yet to take a strong hold in the region can be controlled this summer in part by better education of the public.
“We’re trying public education to make them aware of the need for weed control and the cost to the rancher or farmer,” he says. “There are better ways of enforcing than running around with a big stick.”
If weeds of any sort take over range land, 10-15 per cent of crop yield can be affected, Meier says.
In British Columbia, the estimated cost of crop loss due to weed infestation is about $50 million per year, according to provincial figures.
Meier is promoting the Noxious Weed Control Program being run by the regional district as well as the New Invaders Weed Control Program operated by the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture.
“Some people don’t even know they have a weed,” says Meier, as the plants are often very attractive when they flower.
As part of the education process, Jill Copes, contractor for the new invader program, will be offering a Weed Identification Seminar to answer any questions about strange plants found in fields or gardens.
A new invader is a weed which is not native to the region but is now starting to show up in some areas, she says, potentially threatening to choke out all other vegetation.
One problem this year has been the Spotted Knapweed, she says, a pinkish-purple flower with a barbed stem. Although it is only supposed to grow in a hot, dry climate, the plant has adapted to the northern region. “They’re actually Central B.C.’s worst weed,” Copes says, and although there has only been nine knapweed sites reported in the Peace region this year, the potential for trouble is very real.
“We could end up looking like the Okanagan,” Copes says. “Some places there’s no vegetation other than knapweed.”
“The new invader program grabs the problem at the early stages,” says Meier, which is crucial to controlling and eliminating the weeds.
Last year, five of nine knapweed sites were wiped out due to early inspections.
The new invader’s program can be beneficial to suburban dwellers as well, Copes adds.
“If anybody’s concerned about a new weed that’s maybe invading their lawn or garden, they’re more than welcome to bring it in to the agricultural office or to the seminar,”she says.
If on-site personnel can’t help, the plant will be sent to weed specialists in Abbotsford.
Copes reminds people to bring the weed specimens to her in good condition, moist, and with the roots intact.
“If they’re too dried out, they’re impossible to identify in a lot of cases,” she says.
The Weed Identification Seminar will be held July 9 at 10 a.m. at the old Cargill elevator in Taylor. Copes can be contacted at 787-3240.