Reed Canary Grass

What is Reed Canary Grass?

Reed Canary Grass (RCG) is an aggressive, cool season perennial grass that typically invades wetlands that have suffered some type of disturbance. It reproduces by seeds, stem fragments and rhizomes (underground horizontal stems). Seeds adhere to moist skin or fur, and could be transported in clothing, equipment, vehicles, and wildlife.

 

Reed Canary Grass infestations

Reed Canary Grass infestations

Why are we worried?

The impacts that RCG can have on the riverine ecosystems it invades, are many. By invading wetlands, RCG not only reduces plant and animal diversity but also destroys critical biological resources. Reed canary grass alters the geomorphology of the streams by trapping silt and constricting waterways, thus preventing salmon to reach their spawning habitats.

 

Reed Canary Grass growing in the middle of Beaver Creek

Reed Canary Grass growing in the middle of Beaver Creek

Management Techniques

Before any control method is implemented, the area you want to manage should be surveyed. Depending on the size, the location and the plant community of this area, there could be different methods you can apply for management purposes. Also you need to keep in mind the growth and the dispersal characteristics, as well as the life cycle of RCG when you choose a control method. Remember that you can combine different types of control methods during the same growing season. Clipping off the seed heads before any type of management is very advisable, since this will avoid creating seed banks in the ground improving your chances of eradicating RCG.

Mechanical Removal

Digging Reed Canary Grass

Digging Reed Canary Grass

 

Bags of Reed Canary Grass that was pulled from the Kenai River

Bags of Reed Canary Grass that was pulled from the Kenai River

Tarping

Tarping Reed Canary Grass at Beaver Creek

Tarping Reed Canary Grass at Beaver Creek

 

Tarp ready at Beaver Creek

Tarp ready at Beaver Creek

Herbicide Use

For large (and small) populations of RCG the only method that can achieve eradication is the use of herbicides. Glyphosate (systemic herbicide) is used for treating invasive species in natural areas due to its low toxicity and persistence. “ALWAYS READ THE LABEL. Use caution with herbicides; contact Alaska DEC or CES with questions. Always read the label, IT’S THE LAW.”

Working together for healthy watersheds on the Kenai Peninsula since 1997.