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Calcium, an essential plant nutrient, can influence the growth and health of various plants, including weeds like Kochia and thistle. However, calcium does not act as a selective herbicide to control these weeds directly. Instead, its effects are more related to plant health and vigor, which indirectly impacts the growth and competitiveness of weeds. Here’s how calcium can influence weeds like Kochia and thistle:

1. Plant Health and Competitiveness:

  • Adequate calcium promotes the overall health and vigor of desirable plants. Healthy plants can compete more effectively with weeds like Kochia and thistle for resources like sunlight, water, and nutrients.
  • Kochia and Thistle secrete oxalic acid to compete. Oxalic acid is considered a toxin and the Kochia contains 5-12% of oxalates, which often causes chronic oxalate poisoning (alkalosis) in cattle when it’s in the forage. This high content of oxalic acid is what also makes Kochia more competitive.
  • Kochia thrives on high Mg and when there are high sodium levels it can solubilize phosphorus even at pH as high as 10-11.

2. Root Development:

  • Calcium is vital for root development and growth. Well-developed roots help plants access water and nutrients efficiently, enhancing their ability to compete with weeds.

3. Cell Wall Structure:

  • Calcium is a key component for the formation and strengthening of cell walls in plants. Plants with strong cell walls are better able to withstand competition and pressure from invasive weeds.

4. Disease Resistance:

  • Calcium contributes to disease resistance in plants. Plants with sufficient calcium levels may be more resistant to diseases, potentially reducing susceptibility to infections caused by pathogens that could hinder weed growth.

5. Balanced Nutrition:

  • Ensuring that plants, including desired vegetation, receive a well-balanced nutrient profile that includes calcium, supports their overall health and resilience against weed competition.

Guidelines for Applying Calcium:

  1. Soil Testing and Analysis:
    • Conduct a soil test to determine calcium levels in the soil. Adjust calcium application based on the test results to ensure optimal levels.
  2. Calcium-Rich Fertilizers or Amendments:
    • The addition of calcium neutralizes the oxalic acid and reduces the growth and propagation of these weeds on the land.
    • Use calcium-rich fertilizers or soil amendments, such as gypsum (calcium sulfate), lime (calcium carbonate), or calcium nitrate, to supply calcium to the soil.
  1. Proper Timing and Frequency:
    • Apply calcium at the appropriate timing and frequency during the growing season to support plant health and vigor.
  2. Integrated Weed Management (IWM):
    • Employ a holistic approach to weed management, including practices like mechanical control (e.g., mowing), biological control (e.g., beneficial insects), and herbicidal control (e.g., targeted herbicides), alongside promoting plant health.

While calcium doesn’t directly control Kochia and thistle, maintaining proper plant health through calcium application and employing effective weed management strategies can collectively contribute to controlling weed infestations in agricultural or garden settings. Consulting with agricultural experts for region-specific recommendations is advisable for the best results.

Talk to your OMEX representative today to learn more about our range of calcium products and their use to help reduce the spread of herbicide-resistant Kochia and Thistle in your fields.