Toxic weed finds its way into Ponoka County

Agriculturalists are becoming increasingly concerned over findings of jimsonweed in areas of Alberta and most recently in Ponoka County.

Reports of jimsonweed in Ponoka County and other areas of the province

Agriculturalists are becoming increasingly concerned over findings of jimsonweed – (a.k.a) Devil’s Trumpet – in areas of Alberta and most recently in Ponoka County.

The invasive weed is showing up in canola fields and about 40 plants were found on a farm northwest of Ponoka, explains Justin Babcock, agriculture services manager for Ponoka County. The real concern is the toxic nature of the plant.

Farmers are recommended to remove the plant first before combining or swathing as the seeds in jimsonweed are almost the same size of canola. He strongly recommended that when removing the weed farmers wear gloves and have a long sleeve shirt.

What to look for:

The plant can reach two metres tall and has a trumpet looking flowers and a thick purple stem. Growing within the plant are seed pods with sharp, pointy spikes that can carry up to 600 to 700 seeds per capsule.

Leaves are reported as having irregular toothed margins that are 10 to 20 centimetres long. It is said to have a distinct sour odor and the capsule explodes once seeds mature.

“If you’re seeing it, let me know, I can come identify it,” said Babcock.

The real issue, says Babcock, is Alberta has not really had to deal with jimsonweed before as this is a new issue. He says agriculture planners in the province are working on a way to deal with the issue.

“Make sure you bag it as soon as you keep the plant contained,” said Babcock.

He advises against burning the plant as that will release toxic fumes in the air.

Alberta Canola Council clarifies concerns over the weed

According to the Canola Council of Canada, fear of toxicity in canola oil from jimsonweed is unfounded.

“While jimsonweed itself can be poisonous, the heating process in canola oil and meal processing denatures toxic alkaloids, so there isn’t a health concern in processed canola products,” said Curtis Rempel, vice president of crop production and innovation, in a press release.

The press release further adds that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency proposed the weed’s reclassification from prohibited to primary weed.

Jimsonweed is also reported to be found within the Town of Ponoka.

Ponoka County tackles weed issues

Noxious weeds reported in fields in Ponoka County have Coun. Doug Weir concerned; he believes there needs to be stricter rules on farmers to deal with the issue.

“It seems to be the landowners are not taking us seriously on noxious weeds,” said Weir during the most recent regular meeting of the county council last Tuesday, Sept. 8.

He asked if there was a way to ensure farmers follow through with weed control. He heard that some counties post weed notices and require a letter from the farmer stating how they will deal with the issue.

Coun. Mark Matejka suggested before any decisions are made, the county seek feedback from Red Deer and Lacombe counties. Babcock said how he typically deals with the issue is through verbal communication with the landowner.

He added that he could create a form letter to provide landowners if the issue has not been addressed after the verbal communication to ensure compliance.

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