Johnson County has more than 15,300 acres of noxious weeds, according to Jim Hoge who has been Johnson County government’s “weed guy” since 2005.
He is the noxious weed director at the Johnson County Department of Public Works campus in west Olathe. His job is to administer and enforce the Kansas Noxious Weed Law by helping to eradicate or control noxious weeds in Johnson County.
That means Hoge knows noxious weeds, and more importantly, how to get rid of them on public or private land, including farms with large acreage and residential property with far more smaller plots.
“Noxious weeds can grow anywhere. People can get musk thistle and Johnsongrass in their lawn,” he said.
In his 2019 Annual Noxious Weed Eradication Progress Report, Hoge estimates Johnson County has approximately 15,333 acres of noxious weeds, a decrease of 2.5% from 2018. The infestations involve four of the 12 noxious weeds now identified by the state of Kansas. The state began identifying and eradicating certain prevalent noxious weeds under a law first enacted in 1937.
Musk thistle remains the main noxious weed in Johnson County, infesting an estimated 6,500 acres, followed by johnsongrass with almost 5,600 acres. The other two noxious weeds are sericea lespedeza, involving approximately 3,000-plus acres, and field bindweed with only about 200 acres.
Noxious weeds are found on public-owned land, such as right-of-ways of roadways and state, county and city parks. The vast majority of the infested acreage remains in private ownership of ranchers, farmers and landowners, mostly in the western and southern sections of the county.
Efforts to eradicate or control weeds usually begin in early-to-mid-spring before the growing season of the noxious plants and last until late October to inhibit seeding from the weedy pests.
In its ongoing efforts to control and eradicate noxious weeds, the office offers several types of herbicides at discounted costs. The chemicals are available to Johnson County residents only to treat the four species of noxious weeds in the county.
“We do not sell herbicides to control vegetation in gravel driveways, patios, fence lines, etc.,” Hoge said.
As a service to property owners, the office provides rental sprayers to apply herbicides to eradicate noxious weeds.
Hoge also is available to answer “anything from horticulture to agriculture” regarding weeds, noxious or not, and to ensure weed control efforts, such as spraying, will be done safely and correctly.
The Noxious Weed Office is open from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. It’s best to call first at 913-715-8358 for purchasing herbicides, renting spraying equipment or meeting the noxious weed director.
The Department of Public Works campus is located at 1800 West Old Highway 56.