A flowering plant known as Queen Anne’s lace that can cross-pollinate with carrots has had an increasing presence in the Dungeness Valley.
Nash Huber, owner of Nash’s Organic Produce, approached the Noxious Weed Control Board of Clalallam County with concerns about the weed, Cathy Lucero of the control board said.
If the weed known as wild carrot cross-pollinates with Huber’s carrot, which is Nash’s trademark crop, it can make it tasteless, Lucero said.
The cross-pollination renders the seeds unusable as well, according to Bruce Pape of the Washington State University Clallam County Master Gardeners.
Huber has worked for years to develop his seeds, so hybridization is a concern, Lucero said.
The wild carrot has been spreading across an increasingly wide area in the Sequim area over the past half-dozen years, Huber said.
It is seen primarily on country roadsides and land that is marginally managed, he said.
Nash’s Organic Produce maintains isolation of its seed crops from the wild relative, Huber said.
The produce company has managed to control the problem so far, but it could become unmanageable, Huber fears.
He has attributed the presence of the wild carrot to a decrease in county roadside maintenance and also mentioned private owners who are not maintaining their properties.
Growing organic carrot seeds is “becoming more of an important business because of the growth of organic produce,” Huber said.
“We also grow carrot seeds commercially as an income crop,” he said.
“We sell it to other growers in the United States and internationally.
“It is important to maintain genetic purity,” he said.
Wild carrot isn’t cause for as much concern in Jefferson County, said the Noxious Weed Control coordinator there, Eve Dixon.
“Infestations here are believed to be at the level they were in Clallam County five years ago,” she said.
“They could increase, but because we do not have a large volume of carrot seed production, they are not viewed as a serious threat,” Dixon said.
The wild carrot is originally from Europe but is now found almost everywhere in the United States, said Pape of the WSU Master Gardeners.
The weed is considered noxious in Iowa, Michigan, Ohio and Washington state, he said.
Wild carrot is a Class B noxious weed in Washington.
In regions where a Class B species is abundant, control is decided at the local level, according to the Washington state Noxious Weed Control Board’s website www.nwcb.wa.gov/.
Clallam County Master Gardeners are working with the Clallam County Road Department and the Noxious Weed Control Board to find out where the weeds grow.
Master Gardeners began seeking the weed while walking along public roadsides in the area east of Kitchen-Dick Road and north of Hendrickson Road this month and will continue through early July.
The Master Gardeners proposed to walk the roadsides because the carrot is hard to see since it wasn’t flowering at the beginning of the month, Lucero said.
But according to Pape, they are becoming more visible this week.
The field data collected will be entered into a geographic information system to provide information on the seriousness of the infestation.
The GIS allows spacial information to be entered and viewed on a map, Lucero said.
The Master Gardeners have not determined how to reduce the infestation.
They are looking for methods used by other organizations that were successful in reducing the infestation.
“We are not going to reinvent the wheel,” Pape said.
“We are trying to be proactive and head that off so it doesn’t keep us from having a viable carrot seed business,” Huber said.
Those who see the weed can contact Muriel Nesbitt, Master Gardener coordinator, at 360-417-2679 or MNesbit@co.clallam.wa.us.Jesse Major, a recent graduate of Peninsula College and Port Angeles High School, is an intern with the Peninsula Daily News. To reach him, phone 360-452-2345, ext. 5056.