Woolly distaff thistle is a long-lived winter annual that threatens the ranching and dairy industries within the North Coast counties of California, particularly the organic producers. No peer-reviewed publications have documented effective control options or integrated management approaches for this species. We conducted two experiments, each replicated, in Marin County, California. The first compared several conventional herbicides at two timings and rates, while the second compared a conventional herbicide treatment with organic and integrated organic control methods, including an organic herbicide (mixture of capric and caprylic acids). Results of the conventional herbicide treatments showed most spring applications (March or April) of aminopyralid, aminocyclopyrachlor, clopyralid, and combinations of aminopyralid triclopyr, or aminocyclopyrachlor chlorsulfuron had greater than 99% control of woolly distaff thistle with fewer than 1.5 seedlings per 27-m2 plot by the end of the growing season. Higher rates were generally necessary to achieve the same level of control with winter (January) applications. In the organic herbicide treatments, the most consistent treatment was a combination of mowing followed by 9% (v/v) or the organic herbicide. This treatment was slightly less effective compared with aminopyralid but did have better than 95% control of woolly distaff thistle. The results of this study provide control options for both conventional and organic ranching practices where woolly distaff thistle is a problem.
Nomenclature: Aminopyralid; aminocyclopyrachlor; capric acid; caprylic acid; chlorsulfuron; clopyralid; triclopyr; woolly distaff thistle, Carthamus lanatus L.