City of Carlsbad officials said summer rains increased the likelihood of weed growth in the area, and created hazardous conditions once that vegetation dried.
“August did have above average rainfall,” said Meteorologist Greg Pavlik with AccuWeather forecasting service based in Pennsylvania.
He said Eddy County’s rainfall last month was nearly two times the normal amount for August. New Mexico State University Agricultural Sciences Center recorded a total of 57-hundredths of an inch of rain January through May of this year.
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The first month of the rainy season brought nearly four inches of rain in June. Rain tapered off in July with only 4-tenths of an inch of rainfall, but picked up in August with 2.29 inches of rain. So far in September, 58-hundredths of an inch have fallen at the Agricultural Sciences Center, according to data.
Pavlik said more rain produces greener grass, flowers … and weeds.
City of Carlsbad Director of Planning, Engineering and Regulation Director Jeff Patterson reminded Carlsbad residents in a Sept. 2 letter that Codes Enforcement Officers and the Fire Department would be contacting property owners about keeping properties weed free.
“Due to the recent rainfall, the weeds in and around the City have been growing at a significant rate. Un-kept weeds can grow to an enormous size and thickness, and this un-mitigated weed growth can present a fire and safety hazard to the community,” he wrote.
Patterson said the growth may be green right now but once the rainy season ends weeds die and dry out.
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City of Carlsbad statute said grass, weeds, or uncultivated plants are not allowed to grow taller than 12 inches.
“Weeds, grass, vines or other growth that is capable of being ignited and endangering property, shall be cutdown and removed by the owner or occupant of the premises,” read part of the City of Carlsbad Vegetation Ordinance.
Eddy County Agricultural Extension Agent Ivan Tellez said a variety of weeds can grow in Eddy County.
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He said Redroot Pigweed, Puncture Vine and Khaki Weed are some of the most prominent species of unwanted vegetation found in the County.
“Weeds are essentially a plant that you don’t want in whatever space you desire. The problem with weeds is they’re fast growing. They produce a tremendous number of seeds and those seeds are very long lived,” Tellez said.
He said a weed like Puncture Vine grows low to the ground and a lawnmower could miss it when performing yard maintenance.
“You probably have to physically remove it with a hoe or use some sort of chemical control. The key is constant vigilance and constant monitoring,” he said.
“By getting rid of them you’ll get rid of any of the seed producing structures of the weeds. By doing that you essentially cutdown on the seedbank,” Tellez said.
He said some weeds pose an economic and health threat to people and livestock, like Dodder Weed, found in alfalfa, that could can affect crop yields and profits.
“If you’re an alfalfa farmer and you essentially want to harvest this crop and it’s chock full of Dodder that’s going to get into your equipment and you’re going to spread more seeds. You’re probably going to have a hard time selling that alfalfa bale that also has Dodder in it,” he said.
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He said Buffalo Grass was another invasive species that spreads rapidly.
“Invasive species can harm both the natural resources in an ecosystem as well as threaten human use of these resources. An invasive species can be introduced to a new area via the ballast water of oceangoing ships, intentional and accidental releases of aquaculture species, aquarium specimens or bait, and other means,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Tellez said Buffalo Grass was toxic for horses, but fine for cattle as ranchers cultivate it for feed in northern Mexico.
Eddy County was joined in its concern about fire hazards by the City of Roswell, which also reminded residents to monitor their properties.
“While city employees are working on mowing city-owned properties, citizens are asked to gain control of their properties that may be overgrown,” said City of Roswell Spokesperson Todd Wildermuth.
The New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department’s (EMNRD) Forestry Division dealt with increased weeds on State forest lands, said Wendy Mason, wildfire prevention and communications coordinator.
“Most of New Mexico did get a pretty good monsoon especially in northern New Mexico. All of that moisture is creating a significant amount of growth,” she said, and pointed to thistle weeds as a particular challenge for the Forestry Division.
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“Thistles have been growing like crazy. It’s a noxious weed not native to New Mexico. Our native plants are competing with these weeds,” Mason said.
Mason said more information was available at the Forestry Division website https://www.emnrd.nm.gov.
Mike Smith can be reached at 575-628-5546 or by email at [email protected] or @ArgusMichae on Twitter.