Bradford pear trees are nothing but big weeds!

wertach zone 7-B SCMay 7, 2012

My old, no longer used, pasture is being overtaken by Bradford pear trees! Dad had cows on it years ago. I'm about to the stage of using Roundup! I bush hog it about 3 times a year and cut them down, they just come back stronger! I don't know how they got started since no one around me has them! I hate to use Roundup, is there another safer way to get rid of these weeds?

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

cut more often ...

if you keep removing the leaves.. eventually the tree will die..

apparently you leave just enough time.. for the roots to never starve ...


    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 2:59PM
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arktrees(6b NW Arkansas)

FYI, as herbicides go, glycophosphate (Active ingredient in Round-Up) is about as environmentally friendly as it gets. It mimics a plant hormone, and as such is relatively safe for animal life. Neither does it persist in the environment. Once in contact with the soil, it is bound by the soil, where soil microorganisms digest it in a few days to weeks (depending upon temp, fertility, soil moisture, etc) leaving behind CO2, and a single phosphate. Not trying to sell you on using it, just pointing out that's it's not nearly as bad as many claim. For example, I have seen some claim it will kill all earthworms in the soil for 15 years, and it's just not true.


    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 4:23PM
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alexander3_gw(6 Pennsylvania)

>FYI, as herbicides go, glycophosphate (Active ingredient in Round-Up) is about
>as environmentally friendly as it gets.

I agree with this, except that its *glyphosate*, not glycophosphate, short for glycine phosphonate

>It mimics a plant hormone

No, you may be thinking of 2,4-D, which is a synthetic auxin, and causes plants to grow themselves to death. Glyphosate acts by blocking the synthesis of one class of amino acids (aromatic amino acids), which animals do not make.

The hysteria surrounding glyphosate is interesting. Anyone who has used regular roundup (not the extended control version) can confirm that the herbicide effect is gone after a few days. I used to try to control weeds growing between pavers with Roundup. The weeds would die, then a new batch of weed seedlings would start growing in a week.


    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 5:14PM
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arktrees(6b NW Arkansas)

Alex, you are correct on spelling and mode of action. Apparently what I was taught many years ago is incorrect. However, I just botched the spelling. Nothing new there.


    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 6:04PM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

I think the only reason behind round up's bad rep is Monsanto's history.

To be honest I use it plenty but do keep my kid off it and figure any frog it gets sprayed on probably will suffer. Has to be some reason theg say dont spray it on water.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 6:43PM
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Sara Malone Zone 9b

The real issue with overuse of glyposate is that we now have, you guessed it, glyphosate-resistant weeds. That is a result of big time overuse by factory farms planting GMO glyphosate-resistant corn, but the end result is the same, and a weed control program dependent on glyphosate may come to grief at some point. I doubt that callery pears will develop the resistance, though!

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 8:37PM
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just out of curiosity, what are you planning to do with the pasture? There are countless pastures around me which used to be part of small farming operations. They are becoming overgrown with pears AWA other weeds just as bad. The fences deteriorate quickly, livestock is out of the question. What do you do with large, abandoned pastures?

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 8:44PM
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Let those pears grow for a year or two until they are big enough to work with, then girdle them. Remove an inch of the bark all the way around the trunk. In another year or two they will be dead, and without use of any poison.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 5:10AM
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alexander3_gw(6 Pennsylvania)

When Bradfords around here are cut down, the stumps sucker like crazy. Will the same thing happen with girdling?

If the girdling does work, you still have an ongoing problem, as there will be new seedlings every year, until it is no longer a good nursery bed for pear seedlings.

It seems to me that the best thing to do with abandoned pastures is to plant them with desirable trees, and keep on top of the Bradfords until the other trees have made a canopy. I'm guessing pears don't do well as an understory tree. Easier said than done, of course.


    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 11:39AM
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This pic is abandoned pasture near me. Farming operation stopped about 12 years ago. Pioneer species was Red Cedar but these have since been overwhelmed with pears, honeysuckle and bittersweet vine. Picture 20 acres of this garbage!
Way before it gets to this stage, the owner might consider the CREP program. They look for property near streams and wetlands which is going out of agricultural production. These buffers are planted with desirable species and the owner receives an annual payment.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 12:50PM
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wertach zone 7-B SC

sam_md, I plan to get it back in shape and sell the fescue hay, if I can find someone to cut and bail it on halvers or buy it out right.

I know that no one will touch it with pear trees growing on it since it will damage their equipment. It is almost weed free, except for the pear trees!

The fences have deteriorated beyond repair and I don't have the time or inclination to raise livestock.

I have thought about planting it in pines, or some other type of trees, but at 58 years old I might not ever see a profit. Better to put the money in savings. If I had kids, I would plant trees to benefit them.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 1:42PM
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We have these invasive flowering pear trees all around. They are like the borg. In riprarian areas, vacant lots and pastures.

If it were my land and I didn't intend to farm it, I suppose I would plant the pasture with the most-agressive native tree I could find (at the lowest cost, in bulk) and try to crowd them out. Around here I'd try some weedy natives, like maybe Red Maple and kick in some desirables like Tulip Poplar, a few good pines, bald cypress in the wet spots and maybe a few "import" desirables like dawn redwood to dress it up -- my grandkids would have a forest! I've put some thought into this becuase a few lots I've contemplated buying are former pine plantations that were cut out, but the pines pioneer back in pretty quick.

If you have a tractor and disk harrow to turn the soil, I don't know if tilling it up good during the driest/hottest part of the year would kill 'em off -- of course then you'd have to contend with erosion from any rain showers that popped up.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 4:08PM
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Sorry, Huggorm, girdling, as you describe, will NOT kill these seedling callery pears - they'll just resprout vigorously from below the girdle. Application of an appropriate herbicide is essential.

Wertach, dispersal of seeds, by birds feeding on the thousands of tiny little 'pears' produced by ornamental pears is responsible for the host of seedlings you're experiencing. Sure, no one in close proximity to you may have any named-variety callery pears planted, but how far can the robins, starlings, etc. fly from the fruit-laden trees they feed upon?

I find those 'volunteer' callery seedlings with increasing regularity around my farm - but I flag them, and dig them up during the dormant season and use them as understocks to graft named-variety fruiting pears onto.
Otherwise, I'd treat them like I do seedling honeylocusts in the pasture - cut 'em off at ground level with lopping shears, and give the exposed cambium layer a squirt of Pathway/Tordon herbicide.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 1:35PM
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