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Weed Succession

Posted by mynormas on May 11, 2015

The title is not about the success in removing weeds altogether… but… dream on. What I wanted to talk about is called weed succession. It was taught to me by a fresh graduate 20 years ago. God… that makes me feel really old. I don’t remember learning about it at all in college, so it must be something new… then.

‘Succession’ happens naturally in nature. Let me give you a moment to digest that ‘deep’ statement of mine. Basically in nature, species come and go; when soil is bare, the first species that come would be the pioneer species that are adapted to grow in such spaces, when they die they will be replaced by other species, usually grasses; which then over time will be replaced stronger and bigger species.

Men and in this context golf course keepers, tend to push the process along a bit when we want to remove some species with herbicides. Herbicides will affect some plants more than others, especially at different dosages. Plants do not develop resistance to herbicides as fast as fungi or insects but it can happen. What is more common is that plants that are more vulnerable to a herbicide that are applied continuously to an area will die off and replaced (aka ‘succeeded’) with plants that are not affected or recover faster from that particular herbicide.

I noticed this in oil palm areas that are grown in between holes in some golf courses in Malaysia. Only a few types of weeds would survive. It could have been because of the lack of sunlight because its exclusively broad-leaved plants. I used to work in oil palm plantations so I don’t think it was due to the oil palm planters’ practices. When I asked the Superintendent, sure enough, he used only one type of herbicide to maintain the areas closest to his rough.

I have also seen this in some graveyards in Malaysia where right before the time when people visit them (in Malaysia, this is seasonal) the groundskeepers (for want of a better name for them) would be spraying herbicide rather than cutting the grass. Presumably because they work on a seasonal basis too; and yes, only one type of herbicide is used.

Instead of mowing, they sprayed with the same herbicide for years.

Instead of mowing, they sprayed with the same herbicide for years.

I have sadly seen this on bunkers in one golf course where instead of mowing the faces; they took the easy way out by spraying them. After many years, the bunker faces erode and species that are not affected by that particular herbicide; succeeds. And that, I suppose why the phenomenon (is the spelling right?) is called weed succession.

Now sadlier (that means even more sadly. Duh) some clubs also spray around trees, beside buggy paths and drains with herbicide; with the same results.

Edging with herbicide

Edging with herbicide

The herbicide usually used is glyphosate which works against grasses but in high doses would kill broadleaves too and if it doesn’t, some operators would just increase the rate.

I worked at one club that had a few kilometers of fencing that they used herbicide to keep clear. They didn’t notice two things: that they needed to increase the dosage of the herbicide and there’s a lot more creepers on the fence now. Well, not until I pointed it out anyway.

I just switched to a different herbicide – one that actually kills broadleaves – and they managed to control it better. Not that I feel it is the best option, once or twice a year I would insist they use heavy equipment to clear the buffer (actually I had to insist on creating a buffer first) with the excuse it will keep cost lower in the long-term.

It is always about cost, isn’t it?

The way to prevent weed succession and/or tolerance or resistance to a herbicide is of course, to simply just use a herbicide with a different mode of action once in a while.

That wasn’t so hard, was it? Actually judging from the amount of these stuff I see on different golf courses; the concept may be a abit harder to grasp. I understand; I teach spraying and chemical application on golf courses. If you need further inforrmation, do contact me at 03 – 5131 OO66 or with AT replaced with @.


2 Responses to “Weed Succession”

  1. […] to kill the grass at your border fence, kerbs or even drains in the name of saving manpower; avoid weed succession by using different kind of […]


  2. […] ala kadar  dengan semburan yang besar dan tidak sama rata. Selain dari tidak cantik, masalah weed sucession juga akan timbul jika racun yang sama digunakan setiap […]


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