THE ENEMY: Madwort (Asperugo procumbens)
Strategy: Also known as Catchweed (not Catchweed bedstraw) this is a nasty little European invader which produces a small blue to violet flower that will form pointed and somewhat flat seed heads with 4 barbed nutlets (very similar to Houndstongue). These barbs allow this plant to hitch-hike onto anything and almost everything (like socks). This plant is somewhat viney, but generally only grows among itself forming dense thick pockets. Once the weed dies in early summer it turns into a mass of rust to brown tangled vines. It can be found along roadways, ditch banks, and disturbed sites.
Attack: This tough invader does a great job of attaching its way onto any kind of host. Once there it germinates and chokes out all sunlight robbing the other plants of its nutrients and water. The seeds cling onto all things, thus spread far and near to all sites, thus can be found anywhere. This plant is not desirable as a feed. The plant can make harvesting some crops difficult as the ‘vines’ can wrap around harvesting equipment and clog them up or over heat the bearings.
Defense: As this is an annual plant mechanic control is possible. Hand pulling is easy in the early spring, but once the plant matures it becomes quite brittle and will break off and re-grow in a short amount of time. Disking larger patches will work as long as you can keep the ‘vines’ from wrapping around disks and cutting heads. Herbicides such as 2,4-D and Banvel are effective when applied early in the spring. Products such as Telar XP or Opensight can stretch the treatment season. As this has short tough hairs in the leaves and stems make sure you use a good surfactant to get the herbicide into the plant.