Japanese Stilt Grass report

JillyWillyCT(6)August 10, 2013

After a mega infestation this year, am finally thinking we may be able to control this horrible, horrible invasive. If you have it, you MUST be EXTREMELY careful about the timing on when you pull it up!!!! We pulled too soon last year and are paying for it dearly this year.....You must wait until it is just about to go to seed/flower in August (zone 5/6)...we apparently pulled too soon in Early Summer and it came back. This year, we had to go nuclear and ordered some Acclaim Extra after a call to the CT Cooperative extension and received a very informative presentation on this weed from them. After four hours and sixteen gallons of the mix (with coconut oil as a surfacant) and two weeks of longingly waiting, the drifts of this stuff are shriveling and dying! We are not going to pull it up after spraying, since we have read the pulling disturbs the seeds in the ground from prior years, and will cause more to sprout. Another application is due in two more weeks (4 weeks after initial application) and then we plan on a preemergent (any recommendations for woodlands and edges?????) and another batch of Acclaim when the stilt grass rears its ugly head next spring....We WILL get this under control, before it jumps into the deep woods!!!

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I always thought that using a weed whacker on it in August (well September for me) would be of use. That way you don't use chemicals and you don't pull either.

I would not use a pre-emergent on a woodland. But then I try to minimize chemicals (and I have this stuff too).

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 11:12PM
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Remember, it is an annual grass, but the seeds stay viable for a long time, if they are already in the ground. Seeds also float, so if you are near streams, ponds, etc., you will continue to have this plant.

If you are into chemicals, any grass killer will take it out, and pre-emergents applied in Dec. also work. But then, you will miss having ANY good wildflower "babies," too. Hand weeding is still the best option.

I did hear that there is a disease attacking it "up north," and I am anxiously awaiting further news on this. Maybe since you are in CT you can keep us posted.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 12:26PM
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Believe me, I didn't want to go nuclear on it and use chemicals...it has COMPLETELY ravaged the edges of our woodlands, and I am trying to protect the heart of the woodlands by getting ahead of it. I know we are in for a multi year project since it will be easier in the Spring to spray when it's just starting to sprout. We have tried over the past four years to weed whack and hand pull in the late Summer, and it has only multiplied due to disturbing the seed bank in the soil (I think) I will keep everyone posted on this progress; the CT Extension team was very helpful in providing me info. This chemical is more selective than Roundup, apparently, and now, three weeks later, it does seem to have only killed this weed (not the millions of other weeds we have) We have chosen a Weed of the Year to eliminate, less overwhelming that way....first garlic mustard, then wild lettuce...now Stilt Grass. I have received a lot of great advice from GardenWeb and this is my first post...trying to help others who face this invasive horrible grass. Thanks for everyone's contributions on the boards.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 5:24PM
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A good pre-emergent is Snapshot; it is quite expensive but better than Weed 'n Feed. You cannot use it near water, so if what you have now can be used near water, let us know. Most chemicals approved for that will kill everything. I have many good wildflowers near the lake, but the stilt grass keeps coming in, mostly due to the flooding we have had, especially this year.

I do hate to use chemicals, but as a last resort, I "forgive" myself. Otherwise, it would be stilt grass jungle. That stuff can get really tall! Good luck to you.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2013 at 7:56AM
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Has anyone else tried a propane torch? I was unable to get out to control the Stiltgrass last year and am distressed at the progression (invasion) this year.

I had to clear my gravel parking area and figured this would be a fast and effective technique. The Stiltgrass burns quicker than the surrounding vegetation so it was effective in the understory on the woods. Of course, precautions must be taken to prevent forest fire.

Weed-B-Gon worked well in the areas I mow, leaving the lawn grasses untouched.

I will also use a weed whacker in the coming week.

It surely has and is changing the character of the woods and is a formidable pest.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2013 at 9:41AM
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I have used the Acclaim spray near wetlands, but not in them directly. The UConn Extension said its half life (?) was like Roundup, so that we should be safe

Here is the presentation link they sent me.....nothing in here about wetlands or water/bogs, sorry....


We just did spray number #2 this past weekend. The proof will be next Spring when this obnoxious weed rears its ugly head ahead. Ongoing "weed war", I will post updates as I have them....

    Bookmark   August 28, 2013 at 9:58PM
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Spraying now just kills what is actively growing, right? Next spring you could still have seeds sprouting from plants that dropped seed as far back as 7 years ago.

Until the seed bank is exhausted, you will have some level of plants each year (hopefully fewer each year).

What does the Acclaim do that is any more effective than spraying vinegar on it or hitting it with a weed whacker each time?

    Bookmark   August 28, 2013 at 10:34PM
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@esh_ga, I haven't tried vinegar, does that really work? I have seen it all over other boards, but haven't tried it.

Yes, I know I am committing to a multi year "weed war". Since it is an annual, it will be back next year (and then some, as you mentioned, the dreaded seed bank). In previous years we did the hand pulling method....lots of work, but so satisfying to take one's aggression out on it! :-).

However, my big a-ha this year is that we had created more of a mess for ourselves due to disturbing the soil and thus, the seed bank. Yes, we likely pulled too early or late, or something. But over the past four years of dong the hand pulling/weed whacker route, to no success, and quite literally, an explosion of this stuff, I relented to the poison. The CT extension link they sent me showed this other non-Rundup spray that seems to be selective to only the grass weeds, after the first application, it has left other weeds in tact, so, I guess that is a lesser evil?

I will only know if this process works with spraying vs pulling/weed whacking next year at this time, as long as I can stay ahead of it.

My hope in posting here was to warn others to be careful on timing and disturbing the seed banks, because, believe me, a few sprouts of this horrendous stuff five years ago has become an eight foot wide ring around the entire yard and the edges of the woods, I don't want it to take over the woodland understory like in photos I have seen online, and realized drastic measures and a serious commitment was necessary.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2013 at 8:47AM
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You're right about disturbing the seed bank - that is an issue that applies to all seeds. Pulling the plant disturbs the soil and thus exposes more seeds to the light and allowing them to germinate.

But it doesn't create "more" per se. The seeds were already there, waiting. So they sprouted this year when they might have sprouted next year instead. Frustrating to be sure, but you didn't create more plants (an example of creating more plants is if you were to till an area that had a weed's rhizomatous roots then you WOULD actually make more plants!).

The discussion is absolutely useful and I applaud you for your diligence in this effort. I just wanted to make sure that others reading this don't think that killing the current vegetation means that they are done.

Do try the vinegar on a small control patch some time and see how it works. That's what we used last year in a state park. It does knock it back.

And as you said, timing is everything.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2013 at 10:59AM
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@esh_ga, thanks! So, I am intrigued by the vinegar trick now that a real gardener (not simply any 'ol pinner :-)!!) has vetted it. I will try it next spring. Can you use a pump sprayer? do you use it straight or dilute it? I am assuming it works best on young, tender growth.

And, it would be MUCH cheaper than the poison we bought! 1 pint was $90! (as I said, we were/are desperate with this stiltgrass invasion!)

    Bookmark   August 29, 2013 at 11:15AM
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Yes, a pump sprayer is fine. Add just a bit of dish soap (spoonful to one gallon) to help it stick to the plants. If you are using regular vinegar (5% acid) you could go full strength. Or mix with water the first time and use less water next time if it looks like you have to respray.

I agree the savings could be GREAT. Annual weeds shouldn't be so hard to kill ... perennial plants don't respond as well to the vinegar.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2013 at 8:09AM
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Hmmm, no wonder we canâÂÂt seem to get rid of this type of grass. We will try some of the suggestions given here.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 9:23PM
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