Extension Agent: Little mallow weed
Driving home from the San Antonio Livestock Show about 10 years ago, I noticed a new (to me) weed and what looked like common cocklebur growing tall, lush and green along the side of the road near Pleasanton. I said, it can't be cocklebur as it is wintertime and cocklebur is a warm season annual.
Finding it taking over the countryside, I stopped and investigated, taking some leaves for identification; later researching and finding it to be little mallow or sometimes called "cheeseweed." It received that name from the seed pod, which looks like an extremely miniature round block of cheese.
In 2005, Ray Smith, a rancher in Bloomington, called that he had a weed that was taking over his river-bottom pastures; apparently coming from river floods. I recognized it as little mallow, and the quest was on to find a control, as he reported nothing works on it. Little mallow is one of those weeds listed as hard-to-control with no really good research proving what controls it well. So, a demonstration was set up with Ray Smith in 2005 to evaluate six different herbicides to try to stop this weed.
While it is a broadleaf, and the typical broadleaf herbicides such as 2,4-D do seem to control it some, it was noted that they really only cause it to wilt with a lower than desired percent kill. Our demonstration resulted with up to a 95-percent kill achieved with the full 2 quarts per acre rate of Cimarron Max if applied before it gets too tall. Smith has been using this product ever since, and recently even at lower rates of 1 pint per acre with success if he uses a full rate of surfactant with 25-30 gallons per acre water plus spray when the plants are 4- to 6-inches tall. Older plants escape and produce seed. Weedmaster and Surmont did provide 85 percent control and Grazon P+D 80 percent control in the 2005 demonstration.
Recently, I have had additional reports of little mallow throughout the area and even in neighboring counties. My recommendation? Don't wait until you have a big problem, as it is too late then. Even a couple of these weeds are too many. Chop, hand spray or tackle this weed however you can before it takes over your ranch and landscape. If you see it on the roadway, I'd even stop and destroy it for your own sake.
Although not reported to be a problem locally yet, cattle and livestock do eat it some (and spread the seed), and it is reported to have toxic properties, especially to horses.
Second to last news article
As time marches on, so does change, and with me moving on, this will be my second-to-last news article as Victoria County Extension Agent - AG/NR. It has been challenging and time consuming at times but always interesting and many times enjoyable. Not counting, but I'm estimating that this is my 1,555th news article that I have written. I hope that I have been able to help someone along the way to solve a problem, save a dollar or two, or increase your income, or even make a better decision to increase your quality of life.
You will all be truly missed, and it'll be a big change for me (and my family).
And I am pleased to announce that my staff is inviting you to come and attend my retirement reception Tuesday, Feb. 21, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Victoria Educational Gardens Pavilion, 333 Bachelor Drive (inside Airport property).
Hors d'oeuvres and beverages will be provided with a proclamation presentation at 6 p.m. Please RSVP to the Victoria County Extension Office at 361-575-4581.
Joe Janak is a Victoria County extension agent.