You’re probably looking at my title and thinking that I spelled in error, the act of slumber after a heavy lunch. In my defense, naptime is usually when I think about how to react to all the purple

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4 thoughts on “Knap-Time

  1. This is such a timely (and informative) article for me as I have been fretting about an explosion of knapweed in what was a rotationally grazed sheep pasture until about two years ago when I got rid of the sheep to focus on raising pigs. Now the pasture is a custom-cut hay field. The sheep did an excellent job of keeping the knapweed confined to the southwest corner of the pasture, but since the sheep have gone, the knapweed has literally sprinted up the field in line with the prevailing wind.

    It’s time to get back into sheep and do some soil fertility management.

    Thank you for the excellent article.

  2. Troy, We have primarily spotted knapweed here in central ID and it occurs primarily on our dry land or spring flood ground. There is very little on the pivots as we keep the ‘desirable’ forage too competitive for knapweed to take a hold. We motivated our cattle to eat it within the first year or so we were out here simply through higher stock density grazing.

    Where we still have problems with it are the dry areas that only get grazed once a year. We can bite it off completely in June, but it is seeded out in August. Since we don’t mow anything due to all the rocks, clipping is not really an option.

    The indication of P deficiency was news to me so thanks for that tidbit.


    1. I think that even though your once bitten plants seed out in August, you’re likely still making progress. Research has shown that the seed viability of once bitten plants is reduced by about 50%. If you can graze these plants while flowering, seed set is reduced by about 90%. It’s not a perfect solution, because knapweed produces so many seeds. But it’s a start.

  3. Troy’s comment “spotted, Russian or whatever knapweed species” refers to the taxonomic confusion around these species. All species in this genus come from Asia, and as they have spread through North America some have apparently hybridized. Even where they haven’t, it can be hard to tell the species apart. To my eye we have two distinct types in the Northeast:
    Spotted knapweed (Centaurea stoebe, also known as C. maculosa) has fine pale-green leaves, and small pink-purple flowers.This is not the species pictured. Spotted knapweed favors roadsides, sand, gravel pits, and other droughty sites, and is not typically found in mesic pastures. It seems to be expanding rapidly in the Northeast, and is wildly abundant and seriously invasive in parts of western North America.

    The species pictured probably would best be referred to as “meadow knapweed”. I have not been able to definitively identify it, and every year the taxonomy seems to change. An identified hybrid, C. xMoncktonii, (C. nigra x C. jacea?) seems to be much like this plant, while the resumed parents of the hybrid are just a bit different.

    Our experience grazing meadow knapweed is much like Troy’s: cows and sheep eat it without prompting, so it doesn’t take over rotationally-grazed pastures. Where we have only cut one cut of hay for a couple of years, it can expand. One area where it is abundant also has a large patch of milkweed, so we sometimes leave this area for the insects. Spotted knapweed is less substantial, but as Kathy has shown, livestock will eat it also.

    Bruce Howlett, Putney VT

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