overview

Russian Thistle (Tumbleweed)

Russian thistle, commonly known as tumbleweed, is a member of the goosefoot family (Chenopodiaceae).

Russian thistle is categorized as a Summer Annual. It first came to the US as a weed seed transported to South Dakota in flax imported from Russia. From there, it spread via railroad cars, wind, and other transports. It’s now a common and invasive weed across the western United States, infesting over 100 million acres of land. The species thrives in regions with summer drought and winter rains. California is one of its favorite states, but it’s found at varying levels of regularity across the West.

Russian thistle can be found anywhere the soil has been disturbed--across vacant lots, along highways and fence lines, and in other non-crop areas. In turf crops where the soil is tilled or mowed often, it will rarely become significant.

Russian Thistle Identification

Russian thistle is a bushy weed, with a number of slender stems which gain turgor and develop into a woody type texture at maturity. They’ll vary in length from 6-36”. When vegetative, the stems will exhibit reddish or purple stripes.

The plant’s seedlings actually develop as plantlets inside the seed. Under optimum moisture and a wide temperature range between 50-90 degrees, the plantlet uncoils, and its taproot develops in the soil. This type of development lends itself to rapid germination, sometimes less than 12 hours. It will canopy over competing weeds and plants very effectively. One Russian Thistle can release more than 200,000 seed over several miles.

When germinating, the seedlings resemble pine needles they are so fine. When small and succulent, Russian thistle’s dark green, fleshy leaves could be grazed or foraged as their leaves are fleshy and short, only 1” in length typically. Similar to Kochia; Russian Thistle can be toxic to animals, particularly cattle and sheep. The vegetative stage can accumulate excessive nitrate levels in the leaves, and when ingested as too much of the diet, can cause respiratory problems, and even sudden death in these ruminants. The other way they can be poisonous is due to their higher than normal percentage of oxalates, which can shut down kidney function of ruminants.

Once they mature and become more coarse and woody, the older leaves develop a sharp-point to the tip; discouraging animals from eating them. They can grow to be more than 6’ wide under favorable conditions. Their flowers are inconspicuous and occur as bracts, without any distinguishable petal; also very pointed and undesirable to predators. The brittleness of the ‘bush’ once mature and seed has been set, will cause the above ground portion to break off in fall and early winter. As these round, spiny plants travel across the plains or flat lands, seed is dispersed as the weeds ‘tumble’ across vast open areas.

Come spring, many months after the seeds are deposited, it’s not uncommon to see trails of tiny Russian Thistle following a directional pattern similar to the tractor while plowing… this results from the seeds being trapped between the furrows as the tumbling weed was blown across the field. This should not be taken lightly as they will quickly establish in these ‘trails’.

Russian Thistle as an Economic Pest

Russian thistle is a very competitive weed when not kept in check. It will rob water, light, nutrients, yield, and quality. The first little seedlings will be the most competitive. Therefore, any escapes should be controlled before they are 3” tall. When severe, the weed can delay grain harvest because of their high moisture content, raising the average moisture content above threshold for the harvested crop. In severe cases, the crops can become unharvestable.

Russian Thistle Management and Control

In agronomic crops (small grains, corn, cotton, soybeans, etc), the overall objective for managing Russian Thistle is preventing seed production by the weed. Pre-emergent herbicides or other activities to prevent its germination are the most effective means of preventing economic populations.

Post emergent control should be done when the weeds are very small. If you have heavy populations visible in the field in the crop nearing harvest, pre-harvest applications may be advisable to speed dry down. Post harvest control should be done soon after harvest. In certain areas, fall tillage can reduce residues and dry out soils; so applying labelled herbicides may be advisable to retain residues into the winter in dry climates.

Of utmost importance is to not plant into a live stand of Russian Thistle, regardless of its height. Burn it down, till it up, tank mix burndown with pre-emergent materials; whatever it takes; but do not plant into a live stand.

Russian thistle is a known resistant biotype to ALS inhibiting herbicides. Suspected Triazine Resistant Russian Thistle is also under review. Kansas State University has identified Russian Thistle as being resistant to glyphosate, as well.

An integration of Best Management Practices (BMP’s) involving rotation, competition, scouting, and proactive management come together to provide you with the best approach to controlling Russian Thistle.

Consult with your local Certified Crop Advisor or Specialist in your region for labelled and recommended crop protection materials, timing of application, and cultural practices best implemented in your particular area.

Read more about it:

The information provided above was authored by John Diebel and provided by Farmers Business Network, Inc. for informational purposes only. It does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation of a particular course of action or product. Please conduct your own due diligence prior to selecting a particular course of action or product.
Every product that labels RUSSIAN THISTLE as a weed, pest, or disease the product can be applied against is shown below. Click any product for label and more information.
2,4-D Amine2,4-DB DMA 1752,4-DB DMA 200638 HerbicideAAtrex® Nine-O®Abundit® EdgeAbundit™ Extra (Exclusively Distributed by DuPont)Accolade™ HerbicideAccord® Concentrate HerbicideAccord® XRT HerbicideAccord® XRT II HerbicideAccurate® ExtraAccurate® HerbicideAcuron®Acuron® FlexiAffinity® BroadSpecAffinity® TankMixAgility® SG with TotalSol® Soluble GranulesAim® EC HerbicideAim® EW HerbicideAlecto™ 41-SAlion® HerbicideAlligare Imazapyr 2 SLAlligare Imazapyr 4 SLAlligare Rotary 2 SLAlluvex™Ally® Extra SG with TotalSolAlly® XPAmber® Custom-Pak™Amine 6Anthem® ATZ HerbicideAnthem® HerbicideAnthem® MaxxAqua Star®Aquamaster®AquaNeat® Aquatic HerbicideArmezon® herbicideArmezon® PRO herbicideArsenal® herbicideArsenal® herbicide Applicators ConcentrateArsenal® PowerLine™ herbicideAtra-5® HerbicideAtrazine DFAudit® 1:1Audit® 4:1Audit® 75 WDGAuthority® AssistAuthority® EliteAuthority® First DFAuthority® MaxxAuthority® MTZ DFAuthority® Supreme HerbicideAuthority® XL HerbicideBalance® FlexxBalance® ProBanvel 480 HerbicideBanvel® HerbicideBarrage® HFBarrier® 50W Dichlobenil HerbicideBarrier® Ornamental Landscaping HerbicideBasis® BlendBattleship® IIIBeacon® HerbicideBestow™ HerbicideBeyond® herbicideBison®Blanket® 4F HerbicideBoomer™ HerbicideBoundary® 6.5 ECBrash®Broadaxe® HerbicideBroadAxe® XC HerbicideBroadrange® 55 HerbicideBroadStar™ HerbicideBroclean®Broclean® HerbicideBromac®Bromac® AdvancedBrox® 2ECBrox®-MBrox®-M UltraBrozine®Brush-Rhap®Buccaneer® (55467-10)Buccaneer® 5Buccaneer® 5 ExtraBuccaneer® Plus (55467-9)BurnMaster™ HerbicideButyrac® 200Cadet™Callisto® GTCandor® HerbicideCapreno®Carnivore® HerbicideCasoron® 4GCasoron® CSCelebrity® PlusCelsius® WGChange Up™ Selective HerbicideChaparral™ Specialty HerbicideChateau® Herbicide SWCheetah™ HerbicideCheetah™ Max HerbicideChisum™ HerbicideCimarron® MaxCimarron® PlusCimarron® X-traCinco™Ciramet™ HerbicideCivility™ ExtraClarifier®Clarity® herbicideClash™ Selective HerbicideClean Amine®Cleansweep™ D HerbicideCleansweep™ M HerbicideCleantraxx™CleanWave® HerbicideCleat® 75 WG HerbicideCollide™ HerbicideColt® ASColt®+Salvo® HerbicideColt®+Sword® HerbicideComet® Selective HerbicideCommando M™Commando™Cornbelt® 4Lb. AmineCornbelt® 4Lb. Lo Vol EsterCornbelt® 6Lb. Lo Vol EsterCornbelt® SalvanCornbelt® Trifluralin ECCornerstone®Cornerstone® 5 PlusCornerstone® Plus (1381-192)Cornerstone® Plus (524-454-1381)Corvus®Credit® 41Credit® 41 ExtraCredit® XtremeCrossbow® HerbicideCrossbow® LCrossing® 4FCrossroad®Crusher™Curtail® HerbicideCurtail® M HerbicideD-638Dally®Deadbolt®Depth Charge™Derigo™ HerbicideDetail® powered by Kixor® herbicideDetonate® HerbicideDiablo® HerbicideDicamba DMA SaltDicamba HDDicamba XPDiFlexx® DUODiFlexx™ HerbicideDimetric® DF 75%Dimetric® EXTDintec Treflan® 4D HerbicideDistinct® herbicideDMA® 4 IVM HerbicideDouble Up® B+DDraft™ HerbicideDri-Clean® HerbicideDuramax® HerbicideDurango® DMA® HerbicideE-2 HerbicideEdict® 2SCEdition® BroadspecEdition® TankmixElliptical™ HerbicideEmbed™Encompass™Engenia® herbicideEnlist Duo™ Herbicide with Colex D TechnologyEnlist One™ Herbicide with Colex D TechnologyEnlite®Envy™Envy™ IntenseEscalade® 2EsplAnade® 200 SCET® Herbicide/DefoliantET®X Herbicide/DefoliantEthotron™ SCExpert® HerbicideExpress® with TotalSol®Extra Credit 5®Facet® L herbicideFallow Master® BroadspectrumFallow Star®FeXapan™ herbicide Plus VaporGrip™ TechnologyFierce® HerbicideFierce® XLT Soybean HerbicideFinale®Finesse® Cereal and FallowFinesse® Grass & Broadleaf HerbicideFireBallFive Star®Foresters'® Non-Selective HerbicideForfeit® 280Formula 40®Foundation™ Turf HerbicideFour Power Plus®Freelexx™Frequency® herbicideFull Deck™Galigan® 2EGaligan® H2O HerbicideGallery® 75 Dry Flowable Specialty HerbicideGallery® SCGambit™ HerbicideGF-3335Glean® XPGlory®Glory® 4LGly Star® 5 ExtraGly Star® GoldGly Star® K-PlusGly Star® OriginalGly Star® PlusGly Star® Pro Grass and Weed KillerGlyfine™ PlusGlyfos® Aquatic HerbicideGlyfos® X-TRA HerbicideGlyphogan® HerbicideGlyphogan® Plus HerbicideGlyphosate 4 PlusGlyphosate 5.4Goal® 2XL HerbicideGoalTender® HerbicideGoldSky® HerbicideGR1™GR2Grapple™HABITAT® herbicideHalex® GTHarass® HerbicideHardBall®Harmony® Extra SG with TotalSol™Harmony® SG with TotalSol®Harrow™Hat Trick® Three Way HerbicideHelosate® 75 SGHelosate® Plus AdvancedHi-Dep® Broadleaf HerbicideHi-Dep® IVM Broadleaf HerbicideHinge™HM-1512 AGHoncho® HerbicideHoncho® K6 HerbicideHoncho® PlusHornet® WDG Broadleaf Blend HerbicideHoss® UltraHuskie® CompleteHuskie® HerbicideIgnite® 280 SLImazethapyr 2 SLImitator® AquaticImpact®ImpactZ™Impose®Instigate®Interline® HerbicideKleenUp® Pro HerbicideKochiavore™Krovar® I DFKrovar® I DF HerbicideLambient™Landmaster® BWLandmaster® II HerbicideLatigo®Latir™Laudis® HerbicideLeadoff® HerbicideLeague® HerbicideLedger™ HerbicideLiberty® 280 SLLifeline®Lineage® Clearstand® HerbicideLinex® 4L Agricultural HerbicideLock Down™Lock Down™ SCMad Dog®Mad Dog® PlusMaestro® 2ECMaestro® 4ECMaestro® AdvancedMaestro® DMaestro® MAMakaze Yield Pro®Makaze® HerbicideMarksman® herbicideMarvel HerbicideMatador®Matador®-SMauler™ HerbicideMCPE PhenoxyMethod® 240SLMethod® 50SGMetribuzin 75Metribuzin 75DFMetricor™ DFMetrixxMetrixx SCMezaVue™Milestone® Specialty HerbicideMilestone® VM Specialty HerbicideMirage® (524-445-34704)Moxy® 2EMTZ Co-PackNimble®Northstar® HerbicideNortron® SCNuance® HerbicideNufarm Imazapic 2SLNufarm Imazuron™ HerbicideNufarm Leopard™ HerbicideNufarm Polaris® AC Complete HerbicideNufarm Polaris® AC HerbicideNufarm Polaris® HerbicideNufarm Polaris® SPOpensight® Specialty HerbicideOpenSky™Opti-Amine®OpTill® powered by Kixor® herbicideOpTill® PRO Herbicide (Liquid)OpTill® PRO powered by Kixor® herbicideOrchard Star®Outflank™Outlaw®Oxyfluorfen 2E HerbicideOxystar® 4LOxystar™ 2EPanoflex™Panther® D HerbicidePanther® Pro HerbicidePanther® SC HerbicidePanther™ HerbicideParamount® herbicidePastora®Pastora®PasturAll® HL Specialty HerbicidePasturAll® Specialty HerbicidePasture Pro® HerbicidePastureGard® HLPastureGard® Specialty HerbicidePatriot® HerbicidePayload® HerbicidePerfection® Weed & Feed 21-7-14PerfectMatch™ HerbicidePindar™ GTPiper™ HerbicidePlateau® herbicidePlotter® Agricultural HerbicidePlotter® Extra HerbicidePortfolio® 4FPortfolio® 4F CAPortfolio® 4F CaliforniaPowerFlex® HerbicidePowerFlex® HL HerbicidePraxisPrequel®Presidual™ HerbicidePrincep® 4LPrincep® Caliber 90® HerbicidePrincep® LiquidProwl® H2O herbicidePruvin® HerbicidePulsar® HerbicidePurestand™Pursuit® herbicidePylex™ herbicidePyresta®Pyrimax™ 3.2 L HerbicidePysonex™ HerbicidePython® WDG HerbicideQuincept®QuinStar® 4LRange Star®Range Star® XLTRanger Pro®Rapport® BroadSpec HerbicideRapport® Tank Mix HerbicideRaptor® herbicideRascal® PlusRave® HerbicideRaze® Herbicide by WinfieldRazor Burn®Razor®Razor® ProReckon™ 280SLRefer® 280 SL HerbicideRely® 280Report® ExtraReport™ HerbicideRequire® Q (mp)Resolve® DFResolve® Q (mp)Resolve® SGRhonox® MCPARifle Plus®Rifle®Rifle®-DRodeo® HerbicideRoundup Custom™ for Aquatic and Terrestrial UseRoundup PowerMAX®Roundup PowerMAX® IIRoundup Pro®Roundup Pro® ConcentrateRoundup PROMAX®Roundup QuikPRO™Roundup Ultra®Roundup WeatherMAX®Rowel™ HerbicideRT 3®Rugged® HerbicideSaber®Sahara® DG herbicideSalvo®Sapphire®Satellite® FlexSatellite® HydroCap herbicideSavage® Dry SolubleScoparia HerbicideScorch™Sentrallas™Sequence®Shar-Max Glyphosate 41% SLShark® EWSharpen® powered by Kixor® herbicideShowcase™ Specialty HerbicideShowdown® HerbicideShredder® MCPEShredder™ E-99Shutdown™ HerbicideSim-Trol® 4L Simazine Flowable HerbicideSim-Trol® 90DF Simazine Dry Flowable HerbicideSimazat™ 4LSimazat™ 90DFSimazine 4LSimazine 4L FlowableSimazine 90 WDGSimazine 90DFSimplicity™ CASinbar® WDGSnapshot® 2.5 TG Specialty HerbicideSnapshot® DG Specialty HerbicideSolicam® DF HerbicideSolstice™ HerbicideSolution Water Soluble®Solve™ 2,4-DSonalan® 10G HerbicideSonalan® HFP HerbicideSonic® HerbicideSpartan® 4FSpartan® ChargeSpartan® EliteSpartan® FL 4FSpitfire™ HerbicideSpoiler® HerbicideStalwart® MTZStanza™ HerbicideStaple® LXStarane® Flex HerbicideStarane® NXT HerbicideStarane® Ultra HerbicideStareDown™Status® herbicideSterling Blue® HerbicideSterling® BlueStreamline®Strike Three Ultra® 2Strut®Sulfin® 4SCSupremacy® HerbicideSUREGUARD® HerbicideSureGuard® SC HerbicideSurmise®Surmount® HerbicideSurveil® HerbicideSurveil™ Co-PackSurveil™ Co-Pack (Surveil™ V)Sweep® HerbicideSynchrony® XPT-Pac™ XPT-Square™ HerbicideTailwind™Talinor™TeamMate™Tenkoz® Trifluralin 4 EC (62719-250-55467)Thief™Throttle® XPThunder®Tide Glufosinate 280 SLTide Hexazinone 2SLTie Down®Tordon® 22K Specialty HerbicideTordon® K Herbicide Specialty HerbicideTotal® HerbicideTouchdown HiTech®Touchdown Total®Touchdown® CTTouchdown® HerbicideTravallas™Traxion®Treaty®Treaty® ExtraTreevix® powered by Kixor® herbicideTreflan® 4 EC HerbicideTreflan® HFP HerbicideTreflan® TR-10 Granular HerbicideTreflan™ 4L HerbicideTrellis®Trellis® SCTriamine®TriCor® 4FTriCor® DFTrifluralin 4 E.C.Trifluralin 4 EC HerbicideTrifluralin 4ECTriflurex® HFPTriple Shot™Tripzin™ ZCTriumph® 22KTrooper® 22KTrooper™ ProTrumpcard®Truslate™Truslate™ ProTrust® HerbicideTurret®Tuscany® SC HerbicideTuscany™Unison® Novel BroadleafValor® EZ Herbicide¹Valor® SX HerbicideVanquish® HerbicideVaristo® herbicideVarro®Veer® Agricultural HerbicideVelossa™Velpar® DF CUVelpar® L CUVelpar® L HerbicideVendetta® HerbicideVengeance® Plus Selective HerbicideVenue®Verdict® powered by Kixor® herbicideVictory® HerbicideVida® Herbicide/DesiccantViewpoint® HerbicideVision™ HerbicideVolta®Voucher®Vulture™Warfox™Weedar® 64WeeDestroy® AM-40 Amine SaltWeedmaster® HerbicideWeedone® 638Weedone® 650Weedone® LV4 ECWeedone® LV4 SolventlessWeedone® LV6 ECWeld® HerbicideWhiteout® 2,4-DWideMatch® HerbicideWildCard® XTRAWillowood Ethofumesate 4SCWillowood Glufosinate 280SLWillowood Glufosinate 280SL (OT)Willowood OxyFlo 2ECWillowood OxyFlo 4SCWillowood Sulfentrazone 4SCWolverine® AdvancedWolverine® HerbicideXtendimax® With VaporGrip® TechnologyYukon® HerbicideZeus HerbicideZeus® Prime XCZeus® XCZidua® PRO powered by Kixor® herbicideZone Herbicide
  • Technology & Operations
    San Carlos, CA
  • Farmer Experience
    Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Copyright © 2014 - 2018 Farmer's Business Network, Inc. All rights Reserved. "Farmers Business Network," "FBN," and "Farmers First" are registered service marks of Farmer's Business Network, Inc. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. FBN Direct Services are offered by FBN Inputs, LLC and are available only in states where FBN Inputs, LLC is licensed. Nothing contained on this page, including the prices listed or the products contained in your shopping cart, should be construed as an offer for sale, or a sale of products. All products and prices are subject to change at any time and without notice.