Preble County citizens discuss handling of noxious weeds

By Sydney L. Murray

July 22, 2014

The Preble Soil and Water Conservation District recently organized a meeting to present information about noxious weeds. Approximately 30 people from throughout Preble County, including leaders and concerned citizens, attended.

A noxious weed is plant listed by a federal, state or county government as harmful to public health, agriculture, recreation, wildlife or property.

According to Dean Houchen, a farm bill biologist with Pheasants Forever, the most invasive weeds in Preble County are Canada thistle, Wild parsnip, Poison Hemlock, Johnsongrass, Cressleaf groundsel, Marestail and Palmer amaranth.

Some of these weeds can be harmful to livestock and humans. Poison hemlock can cause paralysis and respiratory failure and Johnsongrass can cause cyanide and nitrate poisoning in livestock.

Cressleaf groundsel’s seeds, leaves and flowers contain alkaloids that can cause liver damage in livestock.

Numerous laws exist in Ohio about the handling of the 21 noxious weeds in Ohio. Houchen said it is important to get the general public to be able to recognize noxious weeds and report their locations.

One of the most effective ways to counter the noxious weeds is to use goats, which Houchen called the “trashcans” of the animal world.

Mowing, herbicides and tillage are other ways to counter them. Timing is also important to getting rid of these weeds.

Greg Whitesell, with Crop Production Services, said mid-June is the best time to mow Canada thistle and said keeping it from going to seed is very important.

Whitesell said Poison hemlock has become more of a problem during the past seven years and said there is a lot of Marestail in Preble County. Tillage does a good job getting rid of Marestail and the best time to treat it is in the fall.

Palmer amaranth has been difficult to control and can’t be beaten through mowing, Whitesell said, with the best way to beat it being to take it out of the ground and burn it.

A discussion followed the initial presentations and some expressed concerns about the use of herbicides.

Houchen reiterated, citizens could get some goats to help take care of the problems as an alternative to herbicides.

The PCSWD obtained the opinion of Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Eric Marit on some of the Ohio laws and who is in charge of taking care of noxious weeds in Preble County.

According to Marit, “it is my opinion and you are so advised, that the entity in charge of the maintenance of each specific road is required to destroy noxious weeds during the enumerated dates and this may be done by mowing the right of way. Furthermore, Revised Code 971.33-971.36 requires that noxious weeds around partition fences be cut and that if an adjoining landowner refuses to do so a property owner may, after following specific procedures, petition the township to view the parcel and, if they feel the complaint is just, cause the weeds to be cut. Finally, the primary responsibility for the destruction of noxious weeds found growing on private property lies with the property owner, yet there are provisions available for the township trustees to destroy the weeds should the property owner fail to do so.”