The Shaggy Soldier: A Fast-growing Invasive Plant

Galinsoga quadriradiata, also known as the shaggy soldier, Peruvian daisy, hairy galinsoga, or fringed quickweed, is a flowering plant in the daisy family. It is a species that can be found in various temperate and subtropical regions around the world. The shaggy soldier is characterized by its fast growth and ability to invade agricultural and disturbed areas.

Invasion and Economic Impact

This plant is highly competitive and spreads rapidly, often becoming the dominant species in fields. Its rapid growth poses a significant economic threat to cropping systems, greenhouses, gardens, and nurseries. In fields where vegetables and crops are planted, the presence of hairy galinsoga can reduce yields by 10-50%. As a result, it is considered a weed in both its native and introduced range.

Botanical Description

Roots

The shaggy soldier has a fibrous root system.

Leaves

The leaves are approximately 2½ inches long and 2 inches wide, with coarse teeth along the edges. They are sparsely to densely hairy, with a pointed tip and a somewhat rounded or tapering base. The leaves are oppositely attached and have three distinct veins radiating from the base. Near the base of the plant, the leaf stalks can reach up to 1½ inches in length, but they become shorter as they ascend the stem. The upper leaves may be stalk-less or nearly so.

Stem

The stems of the shaggy soldier are densely hairy and heavily branched. They can grow up to a height of 60cm.

Flowers

The flowers are located at the ends of hairy stalks that arise from the leaf axils in the upper part of the plant and at the tips of branching stems. Each individual flower is about ¼ inch across and has 4 to 8 (usually 5) white petals (rays). The center disk flowers are golden yellow.

Fruit

Both the ray and disk flowers produce dry seeds. These seeds have 5 or more narrow scales attached at the tip, with each scale fringed around the edges and featuring an awn at the tip.

Methods of Dispersal

The shaggy soldier can be dispersed by wind, animals, or water. Its hairy nature aids in wind dispersal, as the short stiff hairs on the seeds can cling to the fur of animals. Human activities, such as the movement of soil or plants, can also play a significant role in the dispersal of this species. Seedlings inadvertently grown in nurseries or commercial greenhouses are believed to be the most effective means of dispersal.

Preferred Environment

The shaggy soldier thrives in warm climates and heavy nitrogen-rich, clayey soils. It requires a pH range of 5-7.4 and an average rainfall between 600-1200mm, evenly distributed throughout the season. The optimum temperature for its growth ranges from 18-27°C.

Habitat

In its introduced range, the shaggy soldier can be found in gardens, greenhouses, agricultural lands, roadsides, railways, and other disturbed areas associated with human development.

Crops Affected

The shaggy soldier negatively impacts various crops, including maize, wheat, vegetables, onions, carrots, and more.

Disadvantages in Cropped Areas

The presence of the shaggy soldier in cropped areas has several negative effects:
1. It reduces yields by about 10-50%.
2. It acts as an alternative host for many insects, viruses, and nematodes that affect crop species.
3. It competes for essential nutrients needed by cultivated crops.
4. Its high leaf surface area can shade out cultivated plants.
5. It increases the cost of production.
6. It can lead to blockage of drainage channels.

Moiben Solutions for Control

At Moiben Connections, we offer effective solutions for controlling the shaggy soldier, including the use of specific herbicides. Here are some of the products we provide:

1. WEMBE 200 SL: A non-selective post-emergence herbicide used to clear annual and perennial grasses, broad-leaved weeds (such as the shaggy soldier), and other weeds in the field. It is recommended for use during land preparation to eliminate all weeds. The rate of use is 3.0 liters per hectare.

2. CATAPULT 480 SL: A non-selective post-emergence herbicide that controls annual and perennial grasses, as well as broad-leaved weeds like the shaggy soldier. It is recommended for use during land preparation to eradicate all weeds. The rate of use is 2.0 liters per hectare.

3. KEEPWATCH 450 CS: A selective pre-emergence herbicide that controls annual grasses and broad-leaved weeds, including the shaggy soldier, on crops such as maize, wheat, rice, barley, and sugarcane. It should be applied immediately after sowing/planting but before emergence, ensuring that the soil is well moist. The rate of use is 3.0 liters per hectare.

4. COMMANDER 240 EC: This herbicide is selective and can be used as an early post-emergence or post-transplant treatment for crops like onions, garlic, cabbages, and broccoli. It effectively controls annual grasses and broad-leaved weeds, including the shaggy soldier. The rate of use is 1.0 liter per hectare for onion family crops and 1.0 liter per hectare for brassica family crops.

5. HOTLINE 450 SC: A non-selective pre-emergence herbicide suitable for controlling annual grasses and broad-leaved weeds, including the shaggy soldier, on crops such as French beans, carrots, baby corn, coriander, and onions. It should be applied when the soil is well moist. The rate of use is 1.0 liter per hectare.

Conclusion

The shaggy soldier, a fast-growing and invasive plant species, poses significant challenges in agricultural and disturbed areas. Its competitive nature, rapid spread, and negative impacts on crop yields make it essential to implement effective control measures. Greenlife offers a range of herbicides specifically designed to combat the shaggy soldier and other problematic weeds, providing farmers and growers with solutions to protect their crops and maximize productivity.

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