Fairfield Ledger
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Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 27, 2014

Noxious weeds in county’s crosshairs

By ANDY HALLMAN | Aug 11, 2014
Jefferson County Environmental Health Director Dan Miller examines teasel weeds Friday near the Dexter Apache Soccer Complex that have grown to be more than 6 feet tall. He said teasel weeds are a noxious weed the county is trying to control.

Jefferson County is on a mission to stamp out noxious weeds before they overrun southeast Iowa.

Jefferson County Weed Commissioner Dan Miller said one weed in particular was especially bad: the teasel weed. It is from the thistle family of weeds and can grow to enormous proportions.

Miller has discovered it in the ditches east of the outdoor tennis courts at Maharishi University of Management. Friday morning, an MUM crew was on the scene cutting down the large weed before it had a chance to multiply.

The weed remains a problem at the Dexter Apache Soccer Complex, where it has grown to more than 6 feet tall. Miller has spoken with Fairfield Castings, which owns the property where the weeds are growing, and the company has promised to address the ever-encroaching pest in the near future.

The egg-shaped flower head of a teasel weed produces thousands of seeds, which could turn into thousands of weeds if it’s not destroyed in time.

Miller said one problem he has encountered in his role as environmental health director is a misunderstanding about who has to mow the weeds and grass along county roads. He said many people assume the county cuts the weeds along the shoulder of the road, but that is not the case.

“It’s up to the property owners to take care of the weeds, right up to the edge of the highway,” he said.

This misunderstanding can allow weeds along the highway to grow for a long period and, sometimes, long enough to go to seed.

According to the Code of Iowa, property owners have at their disposal a few methods of controlling noxious weeds, such as cutting them or burning them. Miller said controlled burns are restricted to certain times of the year and are usually done in the spring. If property owners mow their weeds in the spring, they may have to mow the weeds additional times in the summer after they’ve grown back.

Teasel weeds were among the class of weeds that were supposed to be removed by May 15. Other weeds that were supposed to be cut or burned by then included poison hemlock, sowthistle, wild mustard, leafy spurge and curly dock.

A second class of weeds that go to seed later in the year was supposed to be cut down by June 15. Among these weeds were wild sunflower, cocklebur, water hemp and field bindweed.

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