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Perennial Weed Control Using the Atarus Ranger Propane Flamer and the Sioux Weed Blaster Steamer in a Non-Cropland Environment


Dr. Thaddeus Gourd, Extension Agent (Agriculture), Colorado State University Extension in Adams County. 9755 Henderson Road, Brighton, CO 80601. Phone: 303-637-8117 FAX: 303-637-8125

Tim Ferrell, Producer, Berry Patch Farms Certified Organic Pick Your Own Farm Market,13785 Potomac Street, Brighton, CO 80601. Phone 303-659-5050

Sioux Weed Blaster



Thermal weed control systems

Perennial weeds are common pests of non-cropland areas such as ditch banks, fencerows and irrigation canals along the Front Range of Colorado. The perennial weeds encountered in this study were stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) and poison hemlock (Conium maculatum).

The use of thermal weed control systems addresses a growing trend towards identifying effective, economical alternatives to herbicides for controlling weeds. The purpose of this study was to examine whether steam or flame treatments of non-cropland (ditch banks) in the late spring could reduce perennial weed populations. Weeds were steamed using the trailer mounted Sioux Weed Blaster Steamer weed control device.


Sioux Weed Blaster - Close Up The Sioux Weed Blaster Steamer uses diesel as a fuel source and applies 2 gallons of water per minute, which produces 350 degree F saturated steam at 250 psi. This machine holds 125 gallons of water, which allows about one hour of steaming operation. The flamed treatment involved using the handheld Atarus Ranger Thermal weed control device. The Atarus Ranger uses propane as the fuel source and provides about 45 minutes of flaming per 3 kg tank of propane when used at the high flame setting. The first flame steam and flame treatments were applied on May 4, 2002, occurred when the stinging nettle and poison hemlock were 3 to 6 inches tall. At the time of the second set of treatments the weeds were over 6 inches tall. All weed species plant densities averaged about 5 plants per square foot. Each plot was 16 square feet and required 30 seconds of steaming or flaming to treat all weeds during the first treatment.

The second steam and flame treatments were applied on May 20, 2002, for a duration of 60 seconds. Successful flaming requires only a blanching of weed tissue without reaching the fire point (the temperature at which the flame becomes self-sustained). Ten days after the first treatments of the first steam application, 8.35% control of nettle and 18.3% control of hemlock were observed. At this time the first flame application showed 75% control of nettle and 83.3% control of hemlock. Nine days after the second application of steam, an average of 21.7% control of nettle and 41.7% of hemlock were observed. Nine days after the second flame application, 88.3% control of nettle and hemlock were recorded. Twenty-five days following the second steam application, no control of nettle or hemlock was seen. At this time the flamed treatment showed 76.7% control of nettle and hemlock.


Chart - Steam vs. FlameA statewide burning ban prevented further flame treatments. Steaming weeds using the Sioux Weed Blaster Steamer weed control device gave little to no control of stinging nettle following the two steam applications. Steam treatments gave some control (42%) of poison hemlock 9 days after the second application but no control by 25 days after treatment. Flaming weeds using the Atarus Ranger gave good weed control (76.7%) of the perennial weeds stinging nettle and poison hemlock following just two flame applications.




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