Rains cause explosion in weeds

By Casey Peacock: PNT Staff Writer

Recent rains have created an explosion of weeds in the Portales area creating lots of extra mowing and allergy concerns for residents.

After a dry summer where weeds and lawns could hardly be coaxed into growing, the wet spell has many residents scrambling to keep up.

Marla Foster of Portales Apartments has over 40 rental properties under her care. With the recent burst of weeds, she says she has a hired man that has been working hard to keep her properties within compliance with city weed ordinances.

“With all that rain, they (weeds) sprouted up really fast. We have a guy who mows our yards and we also spray,” said Foster.

Code enforcement officers are also busy battling the weeds. They sent out as many as 150 notices to homeowners during the first part of each week recently in order to comply with city ordinances, according to Capt. Lonnie Berry of the Portales Police Department.

The property owners are given seven days to comply, after that they are issued a citation. The owner is then sent to court and has to work with the judge to resolve the issue. Sometimes a person is not able to comply with the notice, such as an elderly person. In those cases, arrangements are made between them and the city, said Berry.

“If it is a legitimate problem, we try to work with them all we can,” Berry said. “We make arrangements with groups who volunteer to take care of the properties. Overall we get pretty good compliance. We write very few citations.”

The most common type of weed in the area is the ragweed or careless weed, as it is also known locally, according to Eastern New Mexico University Professor of Agriculture Terry Ervin

“The careless weed is causing farmers a lot of trouble,” said Ervin. “The weeds are growing almost as fast as the sorghum and haygrazer crops. The farmers have no choice but to harvest the crop with the weeds in it.”

Ervin said farmers will have to charge differently for their crops, depending on the amount of weeds they may have in the bales.

Another problem associated with the weeds is allergies. The common symptoms include sneezing, itching, watery eyes, respiratory problems and swelling of the skin, according to Dr. Rick Cardenas, of the Roosevelt General Hospital Emergency Room.

“Some people can be very much affected by these things. It can happen very quickly or have a delayed reaction of six to eight hours after exposure to the weed,” Cardenas said.

Since 1998, Veda Urioste, Deputy City Clerk, has been in charge of the Clean and Beautiful program for the city. Through a grant provided by the New Mexico Highway Transportation Department, Urioste is able to hire school age kids during the summer months to help keep the city and parks property clean.

“They pull weeds, hoe weeds, mow and weed-eat. They also pick up trash and paint over graffiti at the local parks and on the Dumpsters,” said Urioste.