Yellow Nutsedge

Below is a picture of yellow nutsedge exhibiting two characteristics that contribute to its ability to be a serious pest.  The “nut” part of its common name is derived from the structure shown at lower left.  It is not a nut, but is actually a tuber, an enlarged part of the rhizome.  The white, root-like structures are also rhizomes which are underground stems.  If the stems were above ground they would be called stolons. These structures are underground and well protected from herbicide sprays.  To really get to them requires a good translocated herbicide.  If you plow and cut the tuber off from the main plant it just produces a new plant from the tuber.  The plant can also produce lots of viable seed enabling it to survive by more than one method.  One way to distinguish yellow nutsedge from purple nutsedge is to cut the tuber and smell it.  If it has a petroleum odor it is purple nutsedge.  Purple nutsedge also has a more blunt leaf tip than yellow nutsedge.  The tubers of purple nutsedge are hairy compared to the fairly smooth yellow nutsedge tubers.  Yellow nutsedge is actually sold as Chufa to be used in wildlife food plots.  Apparently turkey will scratch up the tubers and eat them.  One biologist said he found the crop of Teal killed in a rice field full of the tubers.  If they would leave the rice seeds alone and selectively consume the tubers it sure would help.

Yellow nutsedge with tuber

Yellow nutsedge with tuber

2 comments to Yellow Nutsedge

  • Jeff Dufour

    I have a major yellow nut sedge problem. It’s so bad, you can’t see my watermelons unless you trip on one. I do have my private applicators licience and was told by local farmers that Permit will kill nut sedge. I inquired about the herbicide, I fell on my back on the cost. Plus is it safe for my garden. (1/2 acre).

    Thanks.

    • Johnny Saichuk, Extension Rice Specialist

      Permit is labeled for use in rice and perhaps other crops, but I do not know if it is labeled in watermelons. It is expensive, but the use rate is around an ounce per acre. Check with a local horticulturist or county agent regarding crop safety and whether it can be used in watermelons.

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