Thistles have been introduced in the 48 contingent states since the early 19th century. Originally from Eurasia, as far reaching as Mongolia and southward to North Africa, these plants have made their way to the United States most likely as stow-a-ways in ballast water of ships. There are two types of thistles, biennial and perennial. Biennial thistles have a life cycle that only lasts for two years and a perennial thistle’s life cycle lasting greater than two. Commonly occurring biennial thistles in Pope County are Plumeless, Bull and Musk thistle. Plumeless thistle, Asteraceae Carduus acanthoides, is the major noxious weed that has management priority. It is one of the shorter growing thistles with upright stalks typically between 1 to 4 feet in height. The dark green leaves are deeply lobed. The spines on the stem and on the edges of the leaves give it a winged appearance. Bull thistle grows to a height of 6 feet displaying alternate, deeply lobed and greatly toothed leaves with a large stiff spine at the leaf tip. The characteristic look is defined by downward pointing spines of the bull thistle. Musk thistle contains large reddish brown bracts under the flower head that resemble pine cones. The flower head droops at an angle up to 120° giving a nickname of Nodding thistle. Biennial thistles solely reproduce through seed production. They can produce 8,000-120,000 achene seeds depending on thistle type and favorable environment. Perennial thistles differ in reproduction methods because they reproduce through seeds and through the roots sprouts. Commonly occurring perennial thistles are Canada, Flodman, and Wavyleaf thistles. Canada thistle can flower from the bolting stage after 16 hours of a light period. Flodman and Wavyleaf thisltles are native to North America. One characteristic of Wavyleaf thistle is the gray appearance gained from its immensely hairy stems. The flower head of the Wavyleaf thistle also contains yellow spines whereas the Flodman thistle has defining leaves that are 90° lobed and are shiny green in color.
Control for both biennial and perennial thistles is essential. Prevention is key. Keeping pastures and road right-of-ways healthy with dense native stands is a good way to prevent invasion. If and when thistles begin to invade and displace native species cultural controls such as mowing, tillage, crop rotation and controlled burns can be implemented. Controlled burns will establish a more uniform cover to prepare the area for herbicide treatment. Biological controls, for example various varieties of weevils and gall flies, take many years to establish a population and have been found to be ineffective. Chemical control is most valuable at rosette stage or before fall frost when mature plants are vulnerable. Due to perennial thistle plants having an established reproductive root system, it is imperative to also treat or remove the roots. Therefore, control of biennial and perennial thistles cannot be carried out using the same method. It is always best to use an integrated management program when controlling invasive weeds. If you have any questions or concerns about thistle species and ways to manage them please contact either Jessica Hoheisel with Pope Soil and Water Conservation District at 320-634-5327, Barry Bouwmann with Pope Land and Resource Management at 320-634-7791, or Andy Albertson with Swift Soil and Water Conservation District at 320-843-2458.
Rosholt Research Farm celebrates its 50 year anniversary of existence in May this year. Rosholt Research Farm located near Westport in Pope Country was purchased by Pope, Kandiyohi and Stearns County Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) on May 27, 1968. The motivation to purchase property was to conduct soil and water research.
The 40 acre research farm, now solely owned by Pope SWCD, has the necessary uniform soil type, soil depth, topography and adequate water for irrigation research.
Research at the farm has involved many partners over the years including: USDA-Agricultural Research Service (ARS), University of MN Pope County Extension, US Forest Service, WesMin RC&D, Minnesota Department of Agriculture, University of Minnesota, Prairies Lakes Co-op, and Pope and Stearns County SWCDs.
Nitrogen and water quality research is presently being conducted at Rosholt. The goal is to evaluate the management of nitrogen fertilizers and cover crops in irrigated crop production systems and their impacts on groundwater resources. The objective is to quantify the impact of living mulch (kura clover), cover crop (cereal rye), or no cover crop on nitrate leaching and nitrogen management for irrigated row crops. The project is intended to provide local information to help improve fertilizer management in irrigated row crop production systems.
Data collection for the current research began in 2016 and is designed to be collected through 2020. However, Clean Water funding from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is only secure through 2018. Pope and Stearns County SWCD’s are currently collecting input on updating Rosholt Research Farm’s long term vision plan. This plan will assist in securing funding to continue the current research project and future research at Rosholt Research Farm.
For more information on the Rosholt Research Farm please visit Pope SWCD’s website at https://popeswcd.org/program/rosholt-research-farm/.
The Pope Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) is pleased to announce the hiring of Rachel Holmes as this year’s summer intern. As the intern, she will be assisting in many of the projects that Pope SWCD has throughout the summer such as staking of buffer zones, installing weed fabric, and teaching students about natural resources. The Pope SWCD also coordinates studies at the Rosholt Research Farm where nitrate-nitrogen research is conducted along with the Minnesota Department of Ag and the University of Minnesota. She will be working at the Rosholt farm collecting and analyzing the water samples from vacuum lysimeters under the research crop plots this summer.
Rachel stated about the internship, “I am both excited and honored to be working at the Pope SWCD this summer.” Growing up, she was homeschooled by her mom alongside her six siblings of which she is the third eldest. Her dad is the family practice doctor at the hospital in Elbow Lake where her family currently lives. She has participated in a variety of groups and activities at college including Swing Dance Club, rock climbing, hiking, and InterVarsity.
She is currently working toward an environmental science major at the University of Minnesota, Morris with the anticipation of getting a career in water quality and analysis. Therefore, she is especially excited to be able to work at the lab for the Rosholt Research Farm and gain experience in that field. She will be officially graduating at the end of this coming fall semester. She is hoping to use what she learns from her time here to better guide the details of her career choice. To learn more about the Rosholt Research Farm visit www.popeswcd.org.
Watersheds: Our Water, Our Home
On May 11th, the fifth and sixth graders from Glacial Hills, Minnewaska, and BBE middle schools submitted their artistic environmental posters. Each student from the three schools created an informational work of art on the theme “Watersheds: Our Water, Our Home.” The dozens of amazing posters submitted demonstrated talent and intelligence from every student. The Pope Soil and Water Conservation District board members were challenged with the task of picking the best posters from each school and the best from the overall.
The winners from Glacial Hills are the fifth graders Melena Longtin with first place, Shayne Wilgman with second, and Isabelle Porter with third. The winners from Minnewaska are fifth grader Mattie Parish with first place, sixth grader Grace Larson with second, and Miaya Guggisberg with third. The winners from BBE are the sixth graders Taylor Oeltjenbruns with first place, Presley Detloff with second, and Mia Cyotes with third. In the comparison between the three schools, the overall first place winner is Taylor Oeltjenbruns from BBE while the second and third place winners are Mattie Parish from Minnewaska and Presley Detloff from BBE respectively.
Pope SWCD annually sponsors this poster contest and goes to each school district to present on each year’s theme. The overall winner of the poster contest wins a paid trip to Long Lake Conservation Camp this summer. This year’s winner of the camp is Taylor Oeltjenbruns from the Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa School.
Pope SWCD sends a big congratulations to all the winners and all those who participated! Every student did a fantastic job!
Top Left: Glacial Hills Winners, Top Right: Belgrade Brooten Elrosa Winners, and Bottom Minnewaska Winners