Eastern Prickly Pear

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Eastern Prickly Pear

Postby cmgaines » Sat Aug 06, 2016 8:47 am

Hi Mr. Viette,
We are building a new home in Elkton, VA on a 2.5 acre lot. The acreage used to be a farm field and a large portion of it (in colonies) is invaded by Eastern Prickly Pear. We have been digging them out with hoes and shovels and taking to the landfill. I am not sure if we will be able to physically do that to get rid of all of them. We are not able to spray as we live just above the Shenandoah River. Also we will be digging a well and don't want any poison seeping into the ground water. Do you have experience with these cacti or how to eradicate them to establish a lawn. Thank you so very much for any help you can give.
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Re: Eastern Prickly Pear

Postby lorijones » Wed Aug 10, 2016 4:11 pm

Prickly Pear are very difficult to get rid of. Part of the problem is that any piece of the plant that is left behind (except for small pieces) can take root and start new plants.What you have been doing, grubbing them out and removing the plants, is really the best way to control them if you are not able to spray. Even if you wanted to use a chemical control, the most effective herbicides contain the active ingredient, picloram which is a restricted use pesticide and requires a certified applicators license to buy and apply it. You would have to hire someone to do it for you unless you had a pesticide license.
If the builder is putting in a lawn, wouldn't they scrape the lawn area for you? That would get rid of the prickly pear in that area. The other option is burning but the heat has to be pretty intense. We have used a weeding torch attached to a propane tank (like for a grill) to kill weeds in parts of our vegetable garden. I don't know if you used this according to the directions, if it would put out sufficient heat to kill the plants. It may not kill down to the root though.
Here is some information from the USDA about controlling prickly pear: http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5410122.pdf.
Good luck! I hope this helps. Enjoy your new home!
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