Catchweed Bedstraw: Don’t Spread this Sprawling Weed
Weed management is an important step in protecting wheat crops, with each infestation bringing unique challenges to the field. Catchweed bedstraw is an issue for many northwestern cereals growers because it’s a weed that lives up to its name: once it catches onto crops and equipment, its seeds are tough to separate from harvested grain. Heavy infestations can also cause significant yield losses the following season, since plants typically produce 100-400 seeds. In addition, the weed can host several nematode, insect and disease pests.
According to Washington State University Extension, here’s how to spot catchweed bedstraw, which can grow in a variety of habitats:
- Stems are square in cross-section and covered in hairlike bristles that give the plant the appearance of being “sticky,” and grow about 6’ long
- Stems are mostly unbranched, too weak to stand on their own and often intertwine with upright plants
- Elliptical-shaped leaves are narrow, mostly whorled and contain 6–8 hairy leaves per whorl
- Small, pale green to white flowers grow in the axils of upper leaves
- 2-lobed, spherical fruits separate at maturity and are covered with sticky hairs
When it comes to controlling catchweed bedstraw, clean machinery to avoid spreading seed from field to field. Planting a competitive grass and wildflower mixture can also help stop catchweed bedstraw from cropping up. While regular mowing may be an option, it’s been reported that cutting at 2 to 3” can actually increase biomass production up to 30% compared to uncut plants.
To keep catchweed bedstraw out of your wheat fields, post-emergence herbicides Talinor® and Axial® Star are excellent tank-mix partners for 1-pass control of yield-robbing broadleaf and grass weeds with additional modes of action.
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