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leca
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Joined: Fri Jul 4th, 2008
Location: Australia
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Posted: Wed Aug 24th, 2011 11:38 pm
Bracken grows in impoverished soil (well it does in Australia I assume its the same the world over) Best and safest way to get rid of it is to fertilise/improve the soil. And often only one application is needed to see results, with ongoing soil improvement to eradicate it.
hairyhorse
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Joined: Sat Jun 25th, 2011
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Posted: Thu Aug 25th, 2011 04:41 am
Bracken fern will grow in acidic soils. We had quite crop in our last farm which had deep, rich basaltic soils.

We don't like using herbicides as you enter into a continuous cycle of dealing with one weed after another. Slashing and application of lime based on soil testing recommendations will eradicate the bracken in a few years. You will need to find a lab to do the testing which perhaps your Department of Agriculture may have listed.

It's best to slash when the new season's growth is just starting to harden off as the nutrients / plant reserves are still in the fronds. By the time the growth has matured, the plant is building reserves in the root system so slashing is much less effective.

Over sowing a very competitive, fast growing crop is also advantageous and for small areas you can brew equal quantities of well crushed, unfurled fronds with white sugar just covered with water and apply once it has fermented to the root system. This will completely kill the plant but is not the best choice for acres of infestation.

Good Luck.

Pauline Moore
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Joined: Fri Mar 23rd, 2007
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Posted: Thu Aug 25th, 2011 08:09 am
For large areas where spraying is the only practical option, the herbicide Metsulfuron Methyl is an effective solution, sold in Australia under the brand name 'Associate'. This is a low-toxicity and low-application rate urea compound herbicide that is specific to woody stemmed plants such as blackberry and bracken. A once-only application in Autumn works well although results may not be seen for several months.

It should be noted that toxicity of bracken fern can continue after it has been slashed or mown, and palatability can increase, so the dead fronds should not be left on the ground where animals are grazing. Bracken is not generally palatable to horses, but there have been reported instances of cattle deaths after consuming slashed bracken.

Best wishes
Pauline
spartlow
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Posted: Thu May 17th, 2012 05:11 pm
I have battled Brackens for 8 years in a sandy food plot in mid-Michigan. At first I tried diff herbecides to little or no avail. What worked best for me ? I sprayed the adult fully grown frons with Round up being careful not to hit my other plants. I also went around the complete perimeter of the plot and sprayed from the edge of the plot outward 6 feet all the way around. Then each spring as the new ferns begin to grow and before the frons develop fully I hand pull them. Thats right by HAND! These ferns propogate by dropping their spores from the fully grown frons and by root growth similar to a perrenial like a day-lillie. Pulling them kills the next generation that would otherwise take over and increase their population. I have less and less each year and now its only a matter of pulling a very few each spring (maintenance). That is my saga of my personal battle with these damn weeds! Good Luck

 

TheoryFarm
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Joined: Wed Jun 17th, 2015
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Posted: Wed Jun 17th, 2015 12:05 pm
I too have resorted to pulling the new young stems up by hand... I pay my 2 small sons a penny a root, and they can gather a hundred in 10 to 15 minutes. That said, can the pulled up fern regenerate if left out on the ground? I'm wondering if there's any need or potential benefit in gathering the stems and burning them?
TheoryFarm
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Posted: Wed Jun 17th, 2015 12:08 pm
spartlow wrote:
I have battled Brackens for 8 years in a sandy food plot in mid-Michigan. At first I tried diff herbecides to little or no avail. What worked best for me ? I sprayed the adult fully grown frons with Round up being careful not to hit my other plants. I also went around the complete perimeter of the plot and sprayed from the edge of the plot outward 6 feet all the way around. Then each spring as the new ferns begin to grow and before the frons develop fully I hand pull them. Thats right by HAND! These ferns propogate by dropping their spores from the fully grown frons and by root growth similar to a perrenial like a day-lillie. Pulling them kills the next generation that would otherwise take over and increase their population. I have less and less each year and now its only a matter of pulling a very few each spring (maintenance). That is my saga of my personal battle with these damn weeds! Good Luck

 


What further treatment does the pulled up fern require?
TheoryFarm
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Joined: Wed Jun 17th, 2015
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Posted: Wed Jun 17th, 2015 12:08 pm
spartlow wrote:
I have battled Brackens for 8 years in a sandy food plot in mid-Michigan. At first I tried diff herbecides to little or no avail. What worked best for me ? I sprayed the adult fully grown frons with Round up being careful not to hit my other plants. I also went around the complete perimeter of the plot and sprayed from the edge of the plot outward 6 feet all the way around. Then each spring as the new ferns begin to grow and before the frons develop fully I hand pull them. Thats right by HAND! These ferns propogate by dropping their spores from the fully grown frons and by root growth similar to a perrenial like a day-lillie. Pulling them kills the next generation that would otherwise take over and increase their population. I have less and less each year and now its only a matter of pulling a very few each spring (maintenance). That is my saga of my personal battle with these damn weeds! Good Luck

 


What further treatment does the pulled up fern require?
DrDeb
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Posted: Thu Jun 18th, 2015 05:01 am
NOne. You can burn it or make compost out of it. Not the same as fiddleneck; not the same toxin. That's the interesting thing about "poison plants": there are so many different kinds. I list about 200 poisonous grasses and about 450 poisonous broadleafs or non-grasses in "Poison Plants in the Pasture". Cheers -- Dr. Deb
JulietMacie
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Joined: Tue Jun 25th, 2013
Location: Ashfield, Massachusetts USA
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Posted: Thu Jul 2nd, 2015 06:27 pm
After reading this thread I went out to my pasture and sure enough, there's a large patch of this fern! I've been keeping the horses out of this area since becoming aware of the fern but yesterday, while hand grazing one of the horses in a different pasture, I saw her eat a couple of fronds that turn out to have been bracken fern! Did she consume enough to be worried about? Is there some sort of antidote I should give her? Thanks -- Juliet
DrDeb
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Posted: Thu Jul 2nd, 2015 08:58 pm
Unless you see signs of illness, there's no response you need to make to the horse.

You might want to go back and look up "bracken fern" in "Poison Plants in the Pasture" to read up on what the particular toxin in bracken fern is, etc.

However, more important will be for you to take steps to get rid of the bracken fern, or else cordon it off to where the horses can't reach it. -- Dr. Deb

JulietMacie
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Posted: Sat Jul 4th, 2015 09:40 pm
Thanks for your reply. As soon as the rain stops I'm going out there to weed whack them down, rake them up, lime and fertilize the area.

--Juliet
bena stutch
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Posted: Tue Sep 19th, 2017 11:15 am
My partner swears by adding potassium and phosphate to the soil, as it is the lack of this that allows bracken to thrive.
Ty Tower
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Posted: Fri Feb 7th, 2020 05:40 am
I have found slashing in December and again in February works well in Australia. For an immediate kill this MUST be followed up with either spraying with Metsulphuron or at least another slashing in April.

What you are doing is depleting the plants underground reserves so it faces Winter with none. In the Northern hemisphere Its June through August and then October.

Isabellweirr
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Posted: Tue Mar 17th, 2020 07:18 am
You need to first recognise what the bracken fern is telling you:
1. you soil where the bracken fern is growing is LOW in fertility: yours and all the neighbouring farms that have the bracken have probably been heavily overgrazed in the past and the land flogged of its fertility

2. the bracken fern is TOXIC to stock because it is one of the plants trying to recover and rebuild your fertility, NATURALLY. IF animals try and eat it whilst it is trying to do its job, it cannot succeed. That's why Nature made it toxic so that animals wont eat it. You may have to supplementary feed till the problem is fixed.

3. you need to raise the fertility with organic matter, manure anything.

4. you need to keep stock out until the recovery process has had time to restore fertility and you have increased the biodiversity.
DrDeb
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Posted: Wed Mar 18th, 2020 06:27 am
Isabel, your take on this is a little far over toward the organic and naturalistic -- what you say is not untrue but it's coming from a certain more extreme perspective. Ferns are toxic -- because of their genetics, because of the kind of metabolism they have -- not because of some fore-ordained cosmic plan to keep animals from eating them. Because if you think about it -- by the time the fern has poisoned the horse that eats it, the fern is a "goner" too.

Plants that colonize damaged or overgrazed ground are called "early successional plants". Again, we find them there not because they have any conscious plan that they're going to help to make the ground fertile again. In fact, early successional plants sometimes suck up lots of the trace minerals and nitrogen in the soil because one of their characteristics is that they grow fast and that requires their roots to pull in a lot of nutrients. When they die and decompose, it's true that those nutrients go back into the soil but they do not return more in the way of nutrients and trace elements than they took up in the first place. Their decomposition may help to form humus, which can assist in creating a more loamy soil with better structure and capability for aeration, which may in turn attract worms and other subsoil fauna which DO put more nutrients into the soil by way of their poop.

Early successional plants are, as their name implies, eventually replaced by late successional plants, i.e. woody shrubs and the smaller, faster-growing sorts of trees. Or, depending upon the climate in the particular area, they may be succeeded by more lasting types of grasses to form a savanna or prairie in which there is a stable ratio of grass to brush. Of course this cannot happen fully on any farm, because the humans who manage the land also have needs and preferences -- although if they understand ecological succession, that will inform their management.

Of course horses and other livestock should always be removed from any area where there are toxic plants -- no matter what our take on why those plants are growing in pasture or paddock. Cheers -- Dr. Deb




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