Field horsetail (Equisetum arvense) is a native perennial weed that is found in most regions of Canada. It is increasingly becoming problematic in nurseries across Canada and is particularly prevalent in nursery production in Coastal areas of BC. It has now been found in the BC Interior and southern Alberta where it was not a problem in the past. In some areas it is considered a noxious weed and some jurisdictions may no longer accept trees with horsetail in the root ball.
It is very difficult to control as it spreads readily by fragmented rhizomes in tree root balls shipped from one nursery to another. It resists mechanical treatments such as mowing or cultivation and in many cases this can lead to bigger problems as individual root fragments may grow a new plant. Culturally, this weed can be managed through improved soil drainage, establishment of a healthy perennial grass cover and use of landscape fabrics.
There are also few chemical treatments available. Amitrole may only be used on spruce bare root nursery stock (seedbeds) and can be effective when applied late spring / early summer. Casoron applied as a pre-emergent can be effective when applied late fall or late winter. MCPA will provide good top kill but must be reapplied to provide sustained control.
For more information on the management of horsetail please see Management of Horsetail in Plant Nurseries factsheet >
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