Salt cedar to face aerial attack

TV Hagenah

There is an invader in the area and a handful of area residents are taking it on. They will begin with an aerial assault and finish going hand to hand with the invader on the ground.

The Invader is the Salt Cedar shrub also known as tamarisx and the battle is between the members of the Arch Hurley Conservation Group and the non-native water-thirsty shrub that has taken over along the Canadian River between Conchas Lake Dam and the Quay County line.
The battle lines were drawn recently by the directors of the Arch Hurley Conservation District when they brought together producers from the area, aerial applicators and experts on the eradication of salt ceder to their offices in Tucumcari. “This is a very important project,” said Keith Dunn, PhD from New Mexico State University, about the eradication of the invasive shrub which can consume 1,000 liters of water a day. “It steals water. It’s that simple and our job is to combat that. I don’t call this ‘control’ because I don’t think we’ll ever control it. There is a seed source that looks like it will always be here, always.”

Dunn, according to the coordinator for the eradication process Bob Bruce, is agreed by virtually everyone to be one of the top men dealing with Salt Cedar in the area.
“He is by far the most knowledgeable person on the subject in the state, no in the entire West,” said Bruce. Dunn said that the best way to deal with the tree is to aerial spray with an herbicide, Habitat which has been successful with Salt Ceder and then follow up with hand eradication and that is what the conservancy group is planning under the grant they have received.

Further, he stated that the aerial spray should be done with a helicopter applicator as opposed to a fixed-wing applicator which has a wider spray pattern. Dunn said ideally the time to spray is around late August or September. “That’s when they’re most susceptible,” said Dunn about the Salt Cedar. “There is a kill ratio of about 90 percent when done at that time from a helicopter. It will take about three good passes with a helicopter.”

Dunn said the herbicide is relatively expensive compared to most similar substances running around $190 per acre but it was by far the most effective. One of the key reasons for late August and September is as effective as it is said Dunn is that to be most effective there must be no irrigation of the area which means no water running down the river bed.