Management of common sowthistle
- Michael Widderick and Steve Walker
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- Sowthistle plant
Common sowthistle (Sonchus oleraceus), also known as milk thistle, is widespread across the grain-growing regions of Queensland and northern New South Wales. Sowthistle uses stored soil water during fallows and interferes with crop harvest, adding green matter to harvested grain.
Common sowthistle is ranked as the fifth most difficult weed to control in winter crops. It is one of the most widespread weeds in the northern grain region, with several populations having resistance to Group B herbicides including chlorsulfuron.
Sowthistle has become more common over the past 10-15 years. The weed was once considered to be winter-dominant; however, it is now found year-round. The increase in common sowthistle is thought to be related to a trend for growers to reduce the number of tillage operations and rely more on herbicides for weed control.
Sowthistle plants are erect and fleshy with hollow, smooth stems that exude milky latex when damaged. Plants can grow from 20-150cm in height. Sowthistle plants can be either present as a rosette or upright in their growth form. The seeds of sowthistle each possess a pappus, which aids in seed dispersal.
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