Management of roadside populations of invasive Ambrosia artemisiifolia by mowing

Citation: Milakovic I, Fiedler K, and Karrer G (2014) Management of roadside populations of invasive Ambrosia artemisiifolia by mowing. Weed Research, 54 (3): 256 – 264. DOI: 10.1111/wre.12074

Wiley Online Library Open Access

Abstract: Ambrosia artemisiifolia (common ragweed) is a highly allergenic alien weed in Europe, which spreads rapidly along roadsides. Road verges are subject to frequent mowing, which further increases the spreading of the plants’ seeds. Ambrosia artemisiifolia reacts to cutting by producing new shoots, which are able to develop flowers and ultimately new seeds. An effective mowing regime that would decrease the production of seeds and their dispersal is desirable to control the spread of the plant, but an appropriate way of mowing has yet to be found. In this study, we explored how the reproductive traits of A. artemisiifolia plants in seven spontaneous roadside populations reacted to the application of different mowing regimes over 3 years. The mowing regimes that were applied differed in the timing and frequency of cuttings. We found that the cutting regime, if appropriately timed, can strongly influence the production of male inflorescences (i.e. allergenic pollen), of female flowers (i.e. seeds) and had an impact on the phenological development of the plant. Based on our findings, we suggest that the optimal management of the plant along roadsides must be adjusted to its phenological development. The most effective mowing method of control consists of a first cut shortly before male flowering, to limit the quantities of released pollen, followed by subsequent cuts before the onset of new flowers on the resprouting lateral shoots.
The authors acknowledge COST SMARTER  for financing the Open Access publication of this paper in Weed Research