Yank that ragweed before it blooms
Copious rainfall means we’ll see a bumper crop of ragweed by August unless we take measures now to eradicate it. While pulling it out means more will come, it’s the fastest way.
by JULIE CADIEUX
This is the time of year when we should be identifying and removing the ragweed plant before it blooms and releases its pollen. In our area we have a variety that is commonly called short ragweed and causes hay fever in those who are allergic to it. The plant grows up to 70cm high and its stem is covered with what appears to look like little hairs with greyish green leaves that are opposite at the base but alternate higher up the stem. In June and July, the plant bears small green flowers that grow tightly together in a spike form. August is when it begins to bloom, releasing billions of grains of pollen into the air and effects approximately 16% of Canadians up until the first frost.
Research done by the US Department of Agriculture compared readings of ragweed pollen, changes in temperature and time of first frost, from 1995 on at ten stations across North America and found a link between recent warmer temperatures and the length of the pollen season. In addition, a study published this past February 2011 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, discovered the season for ragweed grew by 25 days between 1995 and 2009 in Winnipeg and Saskatoon, and up to 27 days in other parts of North America.
Interestingly enough, The Canadian Food Inspection Agency claims that ragweed allergies may trigger an allergic reaction to foods such as pineapple, cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon, cucumber and zucchini.
Aside from the known discomforts such as nasal and throat irritation, sneezing, itchy and swelling eyes, sinus congestion and cough, hay fever can also lead to an increase in health problems for those with asthma. Medication costs and work absenteeism are the other reasons why we should be uprooting it from our properties and adjacent public land.
There are things that pollen sensitive people can do to make the season more bearable; Most pollen is transported by the wind up to a 1 km radius, since airborne pollen can settle on fabric those who suffer from allergies should not dry their clothing outside. Hot dry days make pollen conditions worse, so closing your windows and turning on the air conditioner will make a big difference.
The Hudson St. Lazare Gazette – June 15 2011