Attempts to Manage Phragmites Through "Cut and Drip" Method

Phragmites (Phragmites australis), also known as Common Reed, is an invasive perennial grass commonly found in freshwater wetlands. It often results in dense, monospecific stands, therefore pushing out native vegetation, and altering wildlife habitat. This can negatively impact wildlife that depend on native plants for food and nesting. As of now Phragmites is easy to spot because the reeds are flowering. The terminal flower cluster contains numerous flowers, which together look like long feathery hairs of purple inflorescence. Stands of Phragmites can be found in many wetland locations on White Memorial’s property. For the past three seasons White Memorial has tried to manage Phragmites through herbicide treatment. This management technique first sprays the affected area with herbicide when the Phragmites are in full bloom. After about 2-3 weeks the plants turn yellow and the stalks are mowed to stimulate the growth of other native plants. This technique has been practiced on 30 acres of Phragmites infested areas on the property. The results have yielded some success, but the Phragmites still persistents.

Phragmites stalk with flower.
This season we decided to try a different herbicide technique, known as the “cut and drip” method. When using the cut and drip method the larger stalks of Phragmites are cut and then dyed herbicide is dripped into each hollow stem. This is a very meticulous and slow process but does result in a more direct and lethal application of herbicide, which will reduce the likelihood of re-emergence. For now only the large Phragmites are being treated because Phragmites often spreads by its rhizomes. Therefore by treating the larger stalks with herbicide we are also affecting the surrounding, smaller Phragmites as well. So far we have already noticed immediate effects of stands that have been treated. The treated Phragmites have turned yellow and have begun deteriorating. We will have to wait until next season to really understand the long term effects of the cut and drip method and if it stops the regrowth and spread of Phragmites.

No comments: