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Fall Treatment of Phragmites


The Lancaster County Weed Department is currently having a signup for landowner's that would like to have their phragmites sprayed this fall by helicopter. Our goal is to work with each landowner to make sure all the phragmites in Lancaster County gets treated this fall. If you are aware of a patch of phragmites on your acreage and would like more information about helicopter treatment you are encouraged to contact our office.

Fall Treatment Options for Phragmites

  • Helicopter Application - Since some patches are only accessible by helicopter we had Lancaster County Purchasing department take bids to get the best possible price. The price of imazapyr (Arsenal or Habitat) chemical used to treat phragmites has come down since the 2009 application so we were able to get a bid of $200 per sprayed acre for application and chemical from Skycopters (all locations will be measured by GPS in the helicopter for accuracy of sprayed acres). This is the same applicator we have used for the last few years and has shown to be very cautious and accurate. The helicopter will be in the area sometime between mid to late August prior to killing frost. It will depend on their schedule. Contact our office so we can add you to the list to get the discounted rate.
  • Ground Application - Ground application may be possible for some locations and is acceptable if you notify our office this is your intent. Follow the control recommendations below for best results.
  • Cost of Application - It is the landowner's responsibility to control noxious weeds on their property and you will be responsible for the cost.

When and How to Control? The best time to get control is when the patch is new and there are just a few scattered plants. Once it gets established it will form a dense circular patch that is very easy to spot, but control will become much more difficult and expensive. Multiple year applications will be required and it will need to be continually monitored for re-growth. Many landowners had applications in 2009 that are now showing re-growth. Spot treatment and follow up will be required by you next year to treat any areas missed. Research and field data results show that herbicide control with imazapyr (Arsenal or Habitat) has proven to be the most effective. Glyphosate (Rodeo or Roundup) will be effective, but does not have the residual that the imazapyr has. (Read and follow the label directions)

How to Identify During the summer when everything it is green and growing it is difficult to spot phragmites until it heads out. Wetland areas typically occupied by cattails are great places to look for phragmites. Phragmites is a deep rooted perennial grass that will grow 6 - 15 feet tall and likes to grow in wetlands, around lagoons, near streams, creeks or in any area that may be wet for a period of time.

How does phragmites spread? Phragmites will spread by seeds blown by the wind or moved by water. By underground rhizomes that if broken or cut and moved will start a new plant and also by stolons that run across the top of the ground and root down and send up new plants every few inches. Stolons can grow as much as 30 feet in one year.

Why should I be concerned? Phragmites left untreated will create a monoculture and crowd out all other vegetation. It will eliminate natural refuge and feeding grounds for invertebrates, fish, waterfowl and limit recreation values for birdwatchers, walkers, naturalists, boaters and hunters. The tender-dry vegetation left in the fall creates the potential for fast-spreading fire that can threaten surrounding areas including homes and buildings. More information can be found on our web site in the Landowners Guide for Phragmites Control.

Contact Information We need everyone's help, so if you would like more information on phragmites or would like to report an infestation contact the Lancaster County Weed Control Office.
Email: or phone 402-441-7817.


Brent Meyer
Brent Meyer
Weed Control Superintendent
Contact Brent at:
444 Cherrycreek Road, Suite B
Lincoln, NE, 68528
(402) 441-7817