Balsam Bashing

 

2017’s  PUBLIC BALSAM BASH EVENT IS SUNDAY 11TH JUNE, OR COME WITH US ON ANY WORK DAY AND HELP OUT. PLEASE SEE OUR PROGRAMME PAGE FOR DETAILS OR USE THE CONTACT PAGE.                                                                                                                                       Click this link for details. LBMCG ( G ) WORK DAY ADVERT 1
Please see below details of the groups yearly battle to Eradicate Himalayan Balsam in the woodland to the edge of Lower Burgh Meadow. Over the last 4 Years we have cleared woodland measuring 400 meters by 100 hundred meters, that had 40% coverage. The last two seasons we have concentrated our efforts in Plock wood. The rangers at Chorley Council have help us on some  occasions to strim a heavily invested area first, before the group moves in to pull the stragglers. We also make periodical visits back to other parts of the wood to check for any germination in areas we pulled 3 to 5 years ago.

Click on images below to enlarge.

Ready for Strimming taken 05-06-2012  Area ready for strimming.  June 4th 2012

Same area after Strimming 09-06-2012 ready for Pulling stragglers   Same area strimmed,  ready for pulling . June 6th 2012

Same Area 20 days after strimming and pulling 28-06-2012  Same area 20 days after strimming.  June 26th 2012

Balsam Bash Patch 34 days after strimming 14-07-2012 Same area 34 days after strimming   July 4th 2012

Same area 15-05-2015Same area 15-05-2014  Same area on 15th May 2013 98% native growth restored to woodland.

Balsam Bash June  2014.                                                                                                  

Balsam Before Bashing 3 29-05-2014Balsam Before Bashing 2 29-05-2014Balsam Before Bashing 1 29-05-2014                                                Above pictures taken 29th May 2014 ( before )

Below pictures taken 31st May after striming & pulling.

DSCN6560-001DSCN6559DSCN6558

 

Balsam Before Bashing 4 29-05-2014 DSCN6557 

Above Left to right, before 29th May 2014 Balsam Present and After Strimming 31st May 2014.  3rd Picture 8th May 2015, 1 year on, native growth returns

Group Members and friends attend the balsam bash day, which resulted in a large area being cleared, the groups plan is now to return periodically to pull out any stragglers.Balsam Bash day 08-06-2014

Balsam Bash 2015.

The 2015 season is now quite well and truly with us, over the winter to continue the groups Balsam clearance in an area known as Plock Wood, at the edge of Lower Burgh meadow, The Group  cut down an area of Bramble, that we noticed was infested with Balsam in July 2014, so much so that if we did not act, there would be no bramble left within a couple of years.                                                                                                                   The area of approximately 300 square metres was cut down in October 2015. The pictures below show how severe the balsam is and I am sure you can imagine, just how much balsam there was in August 2014, towering above the already severely depleted bramble patch. We estimate that there are about 250,000 balsam seedlings showing in the area and to date the group has pulled 91,476 and scythed done 100 square metres at 500 per mtr making a total of 141,476  since the 21st March 2015, only an other 108,584 to go in 2015

   

On this years public Balsam Bash day  10 members attended, along with 4 members of the public, two of which became new members to the group.                                                  Ranger Jenny came along with the Junior Rangers to help us out to.                                                                                                                                             Thousands of singletons in the area of 2014,s bash were pulled and roots screwed off and around 700 square metres of large stands cut below the lowest node.                                    We will be returning to these areas again in 2015 to pull any stragglers.                      Pictures below from this years bash.

   

 Area before removing Balsam

Same area after removal.

Balsam Bash 2016

An other year of Balsam Bashing continues. 10 members with friends came along and cleared an area 100 yards by 30 yards, which in places was dense with Balsam. We will be returning periodically to pull any stragglers.

HIMALAYAN BALSAM ERADICATION METHODS.

Definition of text .

Stands :-           A large area of Balsam where plants are touching each other as they grow.

Stratification :- Seeds being subject to temperature below 0c will promote germination.

Node :-             On the stem of the plant, where a leaf grows out from.

REASON FOR ERADICATION.

 Hymalayan Balsam is a none native plant, introduced to Britain by the  Victorians, in the late 1800″s

Stands allow no light onto the ground and  as such, most  of our Native wild flowers will cease to exist in these areas.

Single Plants if left,  will develop into large stands, estimated up to 600 plants per yearly increase. ( amount of seeds a plant can produce )

Eradication of Hymalayan Balsam will allow our native  plants to re colonise  & the natural balance of the area will return, increasing wild flower population, will in turn will increase Insects life, which in turn will increase all wild life in the area.

METHODS AND ADVICE.

Timing of methods may vary ( Particularly Hoeing in April) , pending on late frosts etc.

Seeds are viable for 2 years in the ground, not all seeds from last years dispersal will germinate, due to not being at the right depth  light, conditions etc. in the soil.

Seeds need stratification  to aid germinate the following year.

The group has noticed that some seeds may be viable for 3 years or longer.

As the methods listed below are carried out, by the  actual walking of the ground and as you pull up the plants you will be disturbing seeds  to germination levels, which WILL grow.

Once an area is initially cleared, several more visits will be needed to clear the “Stragglers” in the same year and up to 3 years after.

The  areas cleared in year one, with the natural disturbance over the winter months, which  will mean some seeds germinate the year after, as seeds are viable for two to three years.

Each plant can produce up to 600 seeds. projecting them up to 21 feet from the parent plant.

Balsam is an annual, which means the new  areas of balsam you see each year grow from the seeds set from  the plants the year before.

Being an annual, if you cut the plants below the bottom node, that plant will die.

If however you cut the plant above the bottom node, it will bush out & produce more seeds than ever.

When hand pulling stragglers with unopened flower head, cut flower head off , then cut below the bottom node,  then place to pile, if these two cuts are not carried out, when piled up, due to dampness in the pile or rain, the flowers will continue to open and produce seeds.

When Pulling stragglers with opened flowers, cut flower off and place to bag for burning, then cut below bottom node and place root and stem to pile. We have recently found that to crush the open flowers underfoot on hard ground will stop seeds developing.

Best practice for balsam eradication could be as follows :-

A) Survey areas throughout the year to determine where stands are & which areas to work on first.

B) Clear Bramble & bracken areas, engulfed by balsam in the winter months, a rota of these  areas would be best practice, to allow Nesting birds and other wildlife to still be in the areas.

B) Each Plant can produce up to 600 seeds, whilst walking  pull individual plants, which will stop them becoming large stands.

C) Start Balsam bashing at the highest land point & work down, in the theory that when seeds are projected by the plant up to 21 feet, they wont go up hill as far as down Hill.

April.

Areas can be hoed as seedlings are 2 inches high at  half  an inch below ground level. For best results this should be done when dry conditions prevail.

Individuals seedlings can be pulled, but cut root from stem,  if damp or wet conditions prevail, the plant could easily set roots again.

A test area covered in seedlings, of 4  mtrs square was hoed in April 2008. Result 6 weeks after hoeing only 20 new plants grew.

Strimming areas at this time may produce the same results and disturb native seeds to germination level.

May.

The height of the plants by now are approximately 18 inches high and can be easily cut below the bottom node, once cut,  place to pile.

When pulling plants, hold as many as comfy in your hand and then twist the stem off from the root and pile up.

Strimming area will have the same affect, but will damage any native plants there are, these will however, grow again. If perennial.

June.

Plants are 3 feet tall, continue to clear as in may.

July/ August

Plants are now up to 6 feet tall & are producing flower heads , As long as NO Pinging seeds, continue clearing as May/June .

If flowers are open,  stack mass cut or Hand Pulled plants to piles, & jump on pile as it gets larger, the jumping will crush the stems & flatten the flowers,making it harder for the plant  to produce seed  through dampness, any seed that is produced will be localised for easy clearance next year.

This piling method is like a compost Heap,  heat is generated up to 140F once compost heap grows to 1 mtr square. this method is called Thermophilic composting & is known to kill of weed flower seeds at this temperature, the bigger the pile the better, but we don’t know if it kills Balsam seeds, however, the area piles are made in do have balsam growing the year after, but only a very small percentage of what flowers where there when pulled.

If pulling individual plants from a large stand   and piling, fold flower head under & place to centre of pile. roots to outer edge of pile.

If pulling individual plants dotted about the area, best practice is to place flower head to bag for burning, stem and root to small piles, as you move through the area.

September October .

The flower heads of any late stragglers can be cut of & place in Plastic bag for burning. ( disposal of any other method, may result in transfer of plants to an other site, IE Landfill site etc ) all effort must be made not to transfer flowers or seeds to an other site..

Then pull & cut rest of plant just above the root, below the bottom node.

Some balsam will grow very late in the season due to disturbance of ground bringing seeds  to germination level, in September & October you will find plants at about 2 feet high with no signs of a flowers & yet other plants as small as 6 inches high will have a single flower on them.

These are the ones you need to pull, left they will produce the plants for next year.

Notes.

The group have found that after initial clearance of stands, & pulling stragglers monthly from areas, there are still a small amount of plants in the third year, presumably seeds from 3 years ago ??? ( Viable 2 years ) or do birds carry the seeds, ? do they pass through there bodies ?.

In Bracken & Bramble stands balsam will grow to above them, but small Balsam up to 6 inches high, late in the season below the Bracken or Bramble  canopy will produce flowers & seeds.

I am confident to say that some seed are viable for at least 3 seasons, if disturb to germination level.

I have left a hand full of Balsam draped over a V in a tree at various stages of growing & if it rains & damp condition prevail, they will still be alive 2-3 weeks later, with even the growing tip turning up to the light.

Very important to make note of were the pulled piles are to check early the year after.

© Copyright Lower Burgh Meadow Conservation Group Dec 2012

 

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