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‘Blue mustard,’ other weeds prospering during wet spring; more sure to follow this year

'Blue mustard,' other weeds prospering during wet spring; more sure to follow this year

Apr 30, 2017 - By Daniel Bendtsen, Staff Writer

The moisture that's come early and often to Fremont County this year bodes well for farmers, but it's certainly making weeds happy, too.

Chorispora tenella, the purple flower better known as blue mustard, has blanketed fields around Riverton as spring continues.

Fremont County Weed and Pest superintendent Aaron Foster said blue mustard isn't problematic to local plants, and its unpleasant smell will be gone in a few weeks when the flowers wilt.

But Foster said more-noxious weeds are also expected to thrive this year.

"They're going to be bigger, more robust and possibly more dense," he said.

Annual weeds, including other mustards and sweet clover, enjoy cool springs and will benefit from the longer stretch of cool weather this year, Foster said.

The increased organic matter and micro-activity in the soil are also likely to provide more nutrients for the plants.

Perennials, including Russian knapweed, are already doing well, and Foster expects cheatgrass to "take advantage" of the moisture as well.

When Foster's department works to control the weeds later this year, the moisture can actually help herbicides take root at summer's peak.

"They don't translocate the herbicide if it's dry," he said.

The rain that continued to fall in recent days is an equal-opportunity benefactor, he added. Native grasses also like the cool, wet weather.

"That can also be a positive thing for getting them established in the long-term," he said.

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