What is foxtail barley?
Foxtail barley (Hordeum jubatum L.), designated as a nuisance weed under the Weed Control Act, 2010, is a short-lived native perennial grass with a shallow, fibrous root system that reproduces by seed. Narrow leaves grow in a clump and seeds have long fine brush-like hairs which make the seed head look like a "tail”.
What issues does foxtail cause?
Foxtail matures in summer, typically in July. At maturity, the seed heads of foxtail break up and are sharp. The barbed seed heads can become lodged in the skin, mouth, nose and eyes of dogs and other domestic animals causing severe harm. If digested, the barbed seed heads can embed in soft tissues and lead to infection and even death.
How can foxtail be controlled?
Foxtail produces thousands of seeds per plant, and the seeds primarily germinate in cool moist soil in April, May, September and October. Seeds remain viable for about two to three years, therefore controlling foxtail requires a multi-year strategy.
Mowing: Mowing prior to seed development prevents seed set, therefore mowing is recommended in late May to early June. Mowing for a second time later in the season may be required for maintenance and prevention. Once seeds develop, mowing, bagging, and disposing of seed heads is necessary. To prevent the formation of viable seeds, mowing should be conducted within 10 days of seed head emergence.
What supports and resources are available?
Signage and prevention:
As mentioned previously, foxtail poses significant health risks to pets; therefore, the City has begun to place signage in parks and open space areas alerting pet owners where foxtail is present.
Some preventative measures for residents with dogs, include:
- Brushing your dog after being outdoors
- Keep your dog on a leash
- Checking their ears and paws daily
- Using a netted muzzle or field guard