McCOOK, Nebraska -- A little bit of moisture and a little bit of heat, and weeds in Red Willow County are growing like ... well, like weeds.
Bill Elliott, the county's weed superintendent, told county commissioners at their weekly meeting in McCook, Nebraska, Monday morning that this summer "is going to be a good year for both Canada and musk thistle," two plants on Nebraska's noxious weed list.
And Canada's popping up in places he's never seen it before, Elliott said. "It's been on the rise for about three years," he said. Cris Burks, one of three regional inspectors for the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Plant Industry, said that Canada thistle likes cultivated land and its seeds can be spread by deer. Elliott said that prairie dogs also carry thistle seeds in their fur.
Burning won't kill Canada thistles -- it will come back, Elliott said. Commissioner Steve Downer said that burning does make the thistle easier to find, and if it's mowed, landowners can find it to spray it.
Elliott said that extremely dry weather can be a blessing because it slows the growth of noxious weeds. Burks agreed, however, she explained that when it's wet, the seeds germinate, and when it's dry, the roots just go deeper. "They're noxious because they're persistent," she said.
Burks, Elliott and commissioners reviewed the state's weed control act and noxious weed regulations. By state statute, it is the duty of every person who own or controls land to control noxious weeds on that land. The state allows entry upon all lands by weed control superintendents for the purpose of performing his/her duties, and it is the duty of every weed control superintendent to examine all land within his/her jurisdiction to determine whether the Noxious Weed Control Act and rules and regs are being complied with.
Burks told commissioners that Red Willow County and Elliott need improvement in inspecting ALL lands.
Elliott and Burks will review the county's "open files," continuing cases of noxious weed growth and failure by land owners to control it.