By Scott Anderson
I have been receiving many calls recently concerning aquatic weed control in and around farm ponds and stock tanks.
Aquatic weed control in ponds really begins with proper pond/tank design and construction. The goal here is to avoid large areas of shallow water less than 3 feet deep. Everyone seems to enjoy ponds with clear/clean water. However, if sunlight can reach the bottom of the pond then the water temperature rises, and aquatic weeds are more apt to grow.
Ideal water clarity in a farm pond is being able to see a tin foil pie pan in 3-4 feet of water. This is part of the reason there are products available that do not kill aquatic weeds but add color to the water. To shade out deep sunlight is a deterrent for aquatic weed growth.
Proper aquatic weed identification is also crucial. There are many aquatic herbicides available, but few will provide good-excellent control of every aquatic weed that may be present in the pond.
There are a couple of species of fish that act as herbicides by eating some aquatic plants. One is a triploid grass carp, the other is a particular tilapia. There are some restrictions on being able to purchase these fish and stock them in your farm pond. For more information on the fish you can contact the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service or aquapplant.tamu.edu.
Springtime is the ideal time to control aquatic weeds. The water temperature is warm enough to quickly activate herbicides and the weeds are actively growing.
Aquatic vegetation control can result in periods of low dissolved oxygen, which can stress and/or kill fish. It is best to treat most aquatic vegetation early in the growing season when plants are actively growing. Treating small areas (1/4) of the pond at a time 10-14 days apart should allow for decomposition usually without causing oxygen depletion.
WHIP+ offers disaster relief to Texas crop producers affected by extreme drought
Producers in Texas counties who suffered drought losses in 2018 and 2019, may be eligible for Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+) payments.
In response to several destructive hurricanes, wildfires and other natural disasters that occurred in 2017, Congress approved a $2.36 billion support package which was used, in part to create the WHIP+ program.
An appropriations bill passed in 2019, extended the WHIP+ program to crop production losses due to drought. These payments are a potential way for eligible producers to find some financial relief while dealing with COVID-19.
Losses due to drought are restricted to counties rated by the U.S. Drought Monitor as having a D3 (Extreme Drought) or higher level of drought intensity during the applicable calendar years. Drought severity rankings range from D0 (Abnormally Dry) to D4 (Exceptional Drought).
Dr. Bart Fischer and his colleagues at the Agricultural and Food Policy Center at Texas A&M estimate producers in as many as 97 Texas counties in 2018, 45 in 2019 could be eligible for assistance. The AFPC report can be read online at afpc.tamu.edu/research/publications/files/695/BP-20-01-web.pdf.
Signup for WHIP+ is underway. Contact your county FSA office to sign up. Fischer notes the program covers a variety of other causes of loss in addition to drought. Additionally, livestock losses are not covered by WHIP+ as they are covered by other disaster recovery programs. Details about these and other programs are available at fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/disaster-assistance-program.