Pest Profile: Flixweed
A prolific seed producer, flixweed shatters easily and produces a large amount of seed, which can survive in the soil for three or more years. It’s a major problem in reduced tillage fields and winter annual crops, and can reduce yield or reduce cereal and forage seed quality. In addition, it is also an early spring food source for flea beetles, so it’s essential to identify and control this weed early.
- Winter annual
Flixweed can reach up to a metre in height, with feathery, finely dissected leaves that alternate up the stem and are covered in tiny hairs. It can range in colour from grey to green, and develops small, pale yellow flower clusters at the ends of branches in late spring and early summer. Seeds are bright orange, contained in mustard-like seed pods that are oblong and up to 1 mm. long. Its leaves are bitter tasting, and it gives off a musty smell when mowed or crushed.
Most flixweed plants germinate in the fall, creating small rosettes that overwinter and begin growing rapidly come springtime.
- As flixweed is a prolific seed producer, be sure to scout in the spring to locate infestations early.
- Pre-seed tillage in the spring can destroy overwintered seedlings and rosettes before they get a chance to grow. Post-harvest tillage can also control flixweed rosettes before they overwinter, but be sure to leave crop residues to help protect soil from erosion.
- A post-harvest or pre-seed burn-off can help manage flixweed populations.
Please read each label to determine which herbicide is appropriate for the crop affected.
REFERENCES AND ADDITIONAL READING
“Flixweed.” Alberta Agriculture & Forestry. Online. https://bit.ly/2NgzMqx
“Flixweed.” Province of Manitoba Agriculture. Online. https://bit.ly/2My7Wtx
Raine, Michael. “Weed of the Week: Flixweed.” Western Producer. 10 July 2014. Online. https://bit.ly/2NgzDDv