WELD COUNTY, CO — Weld County Weed Division supervisor Tina Booton is used to fighting the same issues every year as she and her staff aim to suppress, control and eradicate weeds throughout the county that have been identified and listed as noxious weeds by the Colorado Department of Agriculture. However, when it comes to controlling the growth of Kochia — the weed, not listed as noxious by the state, that dots thousands of acres countywide (usually in open and vacant land) and forms tumbleweeds that are both an eyesore and hinderance — Booton wants to remind everyone about the importance landowners play in controlling the growth.
“Every year, I hear from people with concerns about Kochia and the arrival of tumbleweeds asking what can be done to help address the issue,” she said. “However, because Kochia isn’t a noxious weed, largely due to there being too many infested acres, there’s not a lot the Weed Division can do to control it. The best we can do is encourage residents to manage growth on their property and remind people about the control options available to them.”
While not technically classified as a noxious weed, Kochia does have the same characteristics. Historically, it has also been used as a feed source for cattle when feed wasn’t available. However, if not controlled, Kochia can displace vegetation and when the plants die and break off, tumbleweeds form that can clog irrigation ditches, fence lines, and residential properties, as well as pose a fire danger, which is why Booton is asking residents to help control growth before that happens and the strong winds of fall and winter carry them throughout the county.
Booton said the best control methods for Kochia heading into the fall include mowing and mulching the plants down to a manageable height. In the spring and summer months, chemical application along with planting native grasses can also be beneficial in limiting growth. Those who find tumbleweeds on their property can also mow and mulch them or dispose of them with their trash. Booton admits there is no ideal solution for handling tumbleweeds, which is why preventing them through controlling Kochia growth is crucial. To assist in doing that, Booton said the Weed Division is available to help landowners with control questions or developing the best strategy to attack the issue.
“A few plants are not a big deal, it’s the fields of Kochia that are the issue,” Booton said. “We’re happy to meet with landowners to discuss control options, we just ask they take steps to address the issue before it becomes a problem.”