Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale Weber in Wiggers)

Life cycle:

Dandelion is a simple perennial. Plants emerge from seed and the root becomes a perennial taproot system that persists over the winter.

Emergence:

Dandelion emerges late from seed. Twenty-five percent emergence is observed by 552 GDD (base 50 F).

Seedlings emerge from a soil depth of less than 1".

Seed:

Production Average: An average of 15,000 seeds is produced per dandelion plant. There are usually 150-200 seeds per flower and up to 10 flowers per plant.

Dispersal Mechanisms: Seeds can be dispersed long distances by wind because they move in updrafts.

Longevity: Dandelion seeds are not long lived in the soil.

Dormancy: The seed of dandelion are not dormant and can germinate immediately in the same year that they mature of the plant.

Competitiveness:

Dandelion captures space in forage crops and in no-till systems. It is not competitive for light but captures soil moisture and nutrients.

Preferred Soil / Field Conditions:

Dandelion plants thrive on soils rich in nitrogen and potassium. It prefers soils low in calcium or where there is poor decay of organic matter. Also, dandelion does not grow well on soils high in phosphorus.

Management:

Biological

No information is available at this time.

Mechanical

Tillage: Uprooting, chopping, and then burying the dandelion taproots will control the weed. This is why dandelions are seldom a problem in tilled cropping systems. Tillage must be deep enough to cut the root 4" below the crown and the soil surface.

Rotary hoeing and cultivation: Both rotary hoeing and cultivation control seedling dandelions, but have little effect on those that are established.

Cultural

Crop rotation: Dandelion captures space easily, so it can establish in alfalfa and other crops.

Planting date: Planting early in the spring (early May) will reduce seedling dandelion infestations because the seedlings will emerge after the crop has emerged and will be less competitive.

Chemical

Application timing and effectiveness: Spring applications of some herbicides control seedling dandelion. For perennial weeds, fall applications of herbicides are usually more effective than spring applications. dandelion is one of the more difficult weeds to control. Differences in response of dandelion populations to 2,4-D ester and glyphosate have been observed.

For more specific information regarding control with herbicides go to the Dandelion section of the MSU Weed Control Guide for Field Crops in the Publications section.