Weed Identification Walk a Success

Donna talking at the Weed Identification Workshop
Donna talking at the Weed Identification Workshop

Twelve farmers attended the recent UMaine Extension and Maine Highlands Farmers Weed Identification Walk at the Stutzman’s Farm in Sangerville. After seeing the new bakery and café addition complete with the brick oven the group had a tour of the farm.

Sid and Rainie Stutzman explained how they have shifted to a strip tillage system to improve their soil quality. Over the past few years they have seen a dramatic increase in earthworms in their soils. Also, they are able to plant in the strips as soon as the rain stops since they have not disturbed the soil in most of the field. While it does give the fields a more ragged look, it has improved the productivity of their soils.

The group toured their lettuce field that is in transition to organic so they will be able to market crops grown from this field as certified organic. As we toured the field folks collected a number of weeds for the group to identify later in the evening.

Next we toured their hoop house and wooden hoop house that Sunny Stutzman designed for a grant through the Piscataquis County Soil and Water Conservation District. Crops are started early in the hoop houses to provide early vegetables for the stand and café. They have a section designated as their pizza garden where tomatoes, basil, oregano and other vegetables have been grown to provide toppings for their brick oven pizzas.

After the tour we came back to the café to identify the weed samples that were collected. Donna Coffin, UMaine Extension Educator explained that while there may be a lot of different weeds in the crops it can help to start by identifying your worst weed, learn about how it grows and what can be done to control it. To help with identifying the weeds Coffin brought a number of books as well as computer program and mobile technology applications.

The IDWeeds computer program from University of Missouri Extension does help by showing you how to identify the different parts of the weed so you can narrow down the potential plants. Unfortunately, Missouri does have some different weeds than we do so not all weeds can be identified with this resource.

Coffin does have a list of resources to use in identifying and managing weeds and the Cornell University Weed Ecology and Management Website. If you would like a copy of this information, website and IDWeed application contact Donna Coffin at 207-564-3301 or donna.coffin@maine.edu.

Two hours of pesticide recertification credit were received by those with private pesticide licenses.