Giant hogweed is developing along the rivers slightly earlier than last year and we estimate the onset of spring is at least 2 week ahead of last year.
I checked the worst infested areas on the lower Ayr this morning following last year’s in-house control of key problem locations. Results were encouraging alleviating some of the fears we had about the herbicide’s performance. Glyphosate appears to be doing the job it is supposed to which is a relief and so long as control measures are thorough and comprehensive, then I’m sure we will eventually eradicate this menace plant from our catchments or at least we will have a means to, should adequate funding be available.
Another plot where we have performed considerable research into the plant’s response to chemical treatments is at Holmston where this site was one of the earliest known severely infested areas in the Ayr catchment. It isn’t linked to the river so isolated and not likely to be reinfested by seed transport. However, it has taken 8 years of herbicide treaments to date to reduce the problem to just a few plants. Control requires considerably less effort than in previous years as we make progress but essentially, this site will still require monitoring and control for several years to come should new plants continue to emerge.
A lack of funding is the single largest threat to eradication closely followed by missing flowering plants. This became obvious last year when funding for control of this species was available only for Ayr and Doon. That lead to the Irvine and Garnock going uncontrolled for the first time in years. That’s a real setback to any attempt at eradication. This year, we have some funding in place for Ayr, Doon and Garnock but as yet not enough and the Irvine is going to have to rely on volunteers that were trained in herbicide application by the Trust previously but that can be haphazard.