Don't Cut It - Whack It
Managing wildlife habitat can mean many different things. One challenge many managers in our service area face is woody plant encroachment into open areas. It is often desirable to maintain open areas and prevent them from "brushing up." There are a variety of tools available to managers for brush and woody plant management. These include prescribed burning, mowing, dozing, herbiciding, etc. It is important to remember that no single tool is appropriate for all situations.
Selective herbicide treatments, unlike broadcast methods of herbicide application, allow a manager to target specific woody species, as well as individual plants. This affords control of troublesome plants with little impact on the surrounding plant community. In this article, I would like to highlight a selective herbicide brush treatment method that has worked well for us on some areas of the Noble Research Institute Wildlife Unit.
For lack of a better name, we have dubbed this method "bush-whacking." The required equipment includes a "Solo-type" backpack sprayer, a straight shaft power trimmer of sufficient power to operate a brush-cutting blade, a brush-cutting blade (we found the Oregon Cobra to work well), a suitable herbicide for stump treatment application to prevent resprouting (we use Remedy as labeled for stump treatment application), and safety equipment (goggles, gloves, etc.). We affix the sprayer wand to the shaft of the trimmer using hose clamps so that the activating lever of the wand can be depressed without removing your hand from the trimmer throttle area. The spray tip of the wand should be about 6 to 8 inches above the blade (this may require fabricating a wand extension on some models). The procedure is to walk up to the target plant, "whack" it down with the trimmer, apply the herbicide to the stump, and move on to the next plant. This tool works well on thin to moderate stands of woody plants up to 2.5 inches in diameter at cutting height. With a little practice, a single operator can treat a surprising number of plants. Some of the species we have "whacked" successfully include honey locust, green ash, pecan, winged elm, box elder and osage orange.