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December 25, 2016
Nick Buseman - Grundy County Conservation Operation Supervisor , Reinbeck Courier

Once known as a great landscape plant that was used in the late 70's and 80's; the honeysuckle has transformed into a natural resource nightmare. Utilizing the outdoors for pleasure and for work over the last few years has caused me to realize we have a huge problem on our hands.

Like many of our invasive plants the honeysuckle was actually planted and encouraged to be planted around farm places, timber edges, wildlife areas, and parks. Actually I believe pretty much every park in Grundy County has an old row or two of honeysuckle planted. The honeysuckle is a large multi branched understory shrub that produces bright red berries that birds and other animals love to eat.

The consumption of these berries is the root of the problem. As we all know after consuming something our body or their body has to get rid of the unusable part in dropping form. By doing this the wildlife is spreading fresh seeds throughout the surrounding landscape.

Over the last 3 to 4 years our staff has been fighting this timber habitat nightmare. There are several means of attacking this plant. Our staff has taken the approach of manually cutting and stump treating the plant. This process involves extensive manual labor and chemical, but our success has seemed to be fairly successful. We have noticed some grow back from missed stump treatment and or missed targets when cutting. Also we have realized that we are dealing with a large seed base on these areas due to the many years of berry or seed production. Going back in these areas a few years after the initial cutting calls for a lot less cutting and treating; so overall we feel we are holding our honeysuckle problem at bay. With many acres to cover this problem is one of job security, being that we have acres yet to be touched.

The second approach to removing this invasive plant is to mow or grub out the plant. Using a brush cutter on a skid loader is also a very effective way to control this species. Your acre per hour definitely increases, but the downside is the aesthetics of your finished product. Often times the area is greatly disturbed from the large equipment moving throughout the timber, along with the shredded material. Chemically treating the stumps of these plants is still a must to limit the regrowth. Grubbing out this plants is also a way we try to remove this plant. Many times we are able to pop the plant out, roots and all, thereby limiting our chemical use and we are able to grub out this invasive with only one man. Any of the ways we use to control honeysuckle with be effective, but we plan for continuous effort due to the large seed bank.

There are many great things the generation before us accomplished, but honeysuckle is one that is haunting many of us right now. It is a battle we are losing all over the state; destroying acres and acres of native timber. Our native understory is being shaded out. With a lot of elbow grease or diesel fuel we can overtake this nasty shrub. Good luck.



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