University of Maryland Extension

Weed Control on Harford County Farms

Giant hogweed growing in Washington, DC. The iron fence in the photo is 6 feet tall.
Image Credit: 
Sandy Farber Bandier, University of the District of Columbia Cooperative Extension Service

Did you know that Maryland has a law against allowing certain types of weeds to spread on your property? In 1969, the late former Harford County State Senator Bill Amoss introduced this law which prohibits the propagation of certain species of plants declared to be noxious.  This group of weeds includes   Johnson Grass, Canada Thistle, and Shattercane.  Although it is not illegal to have these weeds growing on your property, state law does require that a landowner eradicate or control noxious weeds in order to discourage them from going to seed.  Seeds from noxious weeds propagate profusely, robbing farmers and landowners of valuable crop fields. 

Since the mid 1990s, Harford County has participated in a program to assist landowners in eradicating these noxious weeds. This program is administered within the Department of Public Works, Division of Environmental Services and works in cooperation with the Maryland Department of Agriculture. In response to complaints, requests, or observation of a noxious weed, the program will contact owners and offer plant management plans at no cost.  The landowner has the option of taking care of the site him or herself, through mowing or cultivating, or the program can provide herbicide applications at minimal charges. Labor rates range from $45.00 to $100 per hour. Special discounts are provided to farmers and owners of agricultural land.

The program also provides services to the Maryland State Highway Administration in Harford County to eradicate these plants when found growing within State Highway right-of-ways.  They, too, are held accountable for eradicating these weed species.

In addition to noxious weeds, this program surveys, tracks, records, and strives to minimize the growth of a federal noxious weed called Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum).  This plant is commonly mistaken for cow parsnip (Heracleum lanatum) and angelica (Angelica atropurpurea) and resembles a “Little Shop of Horrors” plant, reaching heights of over fourteen feet with leaves up to 5 feet in diameter.  The plant’s clear, watery sap reacts with sunlight and can cause severe skin irritation, including painful, burning blisters to the skin.   Scarring of the skin may persist for several years.  This plant has even earned its own Hotline (1-877-464-9333).  

For more information on the Noxious Weed Program, contact Kim Ayres at 410-638-3637 or Jim Calao, Maryland Department of Agriculture, Plant Protection/Weed Management at 410-841-5320.


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