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NMSU Canal Weed Field Day Set for June 30

LAS CRUCES - Pesky weeds from outside the United States are sucking up limited water supplies along New Mexico's waterways and irrigation channels. To curb this plant pilfering, a canal weeds field day will be held June 30 at New Mexico State University's Leyendecker Plant Science Center.



In an attempt to improve a farmer's irrigation flow, a backhoe operator cleans out a weed-infested ditch. Water gulping invaders like salt cedar, pepperweed and Russian thistle are the focus of a canal weeds field day June 30 at New Mexico State University's Leyendecker Plant Science Center. (06/01/2004) (Courtesy Photo from Mark Renz)

The half-day program will focus on identifying and controlling invasive weeds and using satellite imagery to more effectively monitor their spread.

"Weeds use a lot of water, but we can easily manage many of these water hogs," said Mark Renz, a weed specialist with NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service.

Registration begins at 7:30 a.m., and the free program starts at 8 a.m at NMSU's Leyendecker center, located eight miles southeast of Las Cruces on Highway 28.

Salt cedar, also known as tamarisk, is the state's most infamous water user, but other water gulpers include buckhorn plantain, perennial pepperweed, Russian thistle and Johnsongrass.

Renz said the common trait of these problem weeds is that none are native to New Mexico. "They're thriving because we lack the insects and diseases that keep them in check in their native habitats," he said. "Still, we do have some effective control measures."

Among the best tools for controlling weeds along irrigation canals and waterways are periodic mowing and canal dredging, as well as several herbicides specifically registered for use near waterways.

During the morning session, Bob Sanderson with NMSU's entomology, plant pathology, and weed science department will discuss the use of remote sensing to detect weeds along irrigation canals. Remote sensing includes data gathered from the upper atmosphere and space using imaging from aerial photographs and satellite images.

"The goal is to develop a model to guide home and land owners in determining which weeds to control," Renz said.

Jill Schroeder with NMSU's Agricultural Experiment Station will provide an update on the Rio Grande Basin Initiative Project, while Tracy Sterling, a NMSU weed physiologist, will discuss weed species' water use. Renz will review rooting characteristics and control measures for common canal weeds, and NMSU agronomist April Ulery will outline soil properties and weed growth.

For more information, or if you are an individual with a disability who is in need of an auxiliary aid or service to participate in the meeting, please contact Leeann DeMouche at (505) 646-3973 or ldemouch@nmsu.edu before the event.