Photo by Dave Hanson, Minnesota Department of Transportation
Leafy Spurge has harmful effects in Otter Tail County and other areas of Minnesota.

By Tom Hintgen

Otter Tail County Correspondent

County commissioners, on July 27, addressed the issue of an invasive weed called Leafy Spurge.

A concern was previously brought to the county board’s attention. This weed is showing up in county ditches. More information is being gathered as to what is currently being done to control this invasive weed.

Once Leafy Spurge becomes established, it reduces pasture or grassland productivity. If leafy Spurge is present in a hayfield, the hay cannot be cut and moved, resulting in economic loss. Infestations can displace native plants and reduce wildlife habitat.

In recent years many counties in the central, northern and western parts of the state have been infested with Leafy Spurge. Biological control with beetles has been overwhelmingly cost-effective and successful at greatly reducing infestations at most sites. 

The use of beetles to control spurge continues to be a collaborative effort with public and private land managers, county agricultural inspectors and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

Leafy Spurge rapidly invades disturbed areas like road ditches. It can quickly displace native plants in moist and dry prairies and is tolerant of a wide range of light and moisture conditions. It is most aggressive in dry sites where there is less competition from native plants.