Field Bindweed

What is Field Bindweed?

Field Bindweed is a creeping, deep-rooted, perennial weed native to Europe and Western Asia. It is suspected that Field Bindweed arrived in the United States around the mid-eighteenth century when it was utilized as an ornamental and medicinal herb. This hardy weed can be found throughout all of Kansas and most of the Continental United States. 

Field bindweed can grow in a wide range of conditions from full sun to full shade and is drought-tolerant. It is found in fields, turf, farmland, and residential areas. It reproduces via roots, rhizomes, and stem fragments, as well as by seeds that remain viable in soil for up to 50 years. It be extremely difficult to eradicate once it is established due to very deep, extensive rhizomes and long-lived seed bank. 

What does Field Bindweed look like?

Mature Field Bindweed plants have leaves that vary in size and shape. Leaves are typically egg to arrowhead shaped and range from 1/2" to 2" long, depending on environmental conditions. Leaves alternate along the stem and are attached by a short leaf stalk, or petiole. 

Field Bindweed is a low-lying plant with vines that trail over soil and other vegetation, often causing dense mats. Like many vining plants, Field Bindweed often climbs objects for support. It is commonly found growing on upright plants such as trees, shrubs, or grapevines with its stems and leaves entwined throughout the plant.

Field Bindweed flowers are trumpet, or funnel-shaped, approximately 1" in diameter and bloom in pink or white. They often resemble a small Morning Glory flower.Image of white field bindweed flowers

Why is Field Bindweed such a big deal?

Field Bindweed is infamous for its ability to multiply. This non-native plant can spread to smother or out-compete millions of acres of crops. Bindweed can form tangled mats, run along the ground, twist and twine around other plants, and climb up a multitude of plants and structures. Each plant can produce up to 500 seeds that remain viable for 50 years. But, bindweed’s biggest threat is what it is hiding underground.

Field Bindweed has an extensive root system of both vertical and lateral roots. Vertical roots can reach depths of 30 or more feet while the shallow lateral roots extend far enough to potentially reach from one pasture to the neighboring pasture. Each of those creeping, lateral roots can produce a number of new plants in addition to those that are a product of viable seeds.

How is Field Bindweed controlled?

Effective Control of field bindweed means that both the roots and the flowers must be destroyed. Field bindweed seeds will remain viable in soil for up to 50 years! For this reason, even repeated control practices may not deplete the seedbank which can result in the re-establishment of the infestation.

Current research indicates that Field Bindweed may be controlled with the following approved control programs.

Cultural Control

Cultural weed control involves land and vegetation management techniques used to prevent the establishment or control the spread of noxious weeds.

Cultural control methods for field bindweed include:

  • A combination of no-till farming methods, crop rotation (to break weed cycles), and keeping the soil covered (to decrease germination of bindweed seeds) will minimize the establishment of new populations.
  • Planting a dense cover crop, such as close-drilled sorghum, close-drilled sudan grass, or narrow row grain sorghum, in the spring after a period of intensive cultivation. (competitive cropping)
  • Frequent inspections of fence lines, roadway, ditches and other susceptible areas for new infestations and the quick removal of any new plants will help prevent establishments of field bindweed.

Mechanical Control

Mechanical weed control involves the physical removal of all parts or just the reproductive parts of weeds. 

Mechanical control methods for field bindweed include:

  • Deep, repeated cultivation can reduce field bindweed infestations but must be done every 2 – 3 weeks in order to deplete the root system and provide effective control. Once cultivated, field bindweed plants will regenerate their root systems in about 3 weeks. Any piece of broken root may result in a new plant establishment. It is important to clean roots, and root fragments, from equipment prior to entering uninfested areas of the field or other fields to prevent the spread of the infestation. 

Perennial weeds, such as field bindweed, are difficult to control mechanically. Overall, mechanical control is not a good option for controlling field bindweed as it is time-consuming, labor intensive, financially impractical and may increase topsoil erosion.

Biological Control

Biological control involves the application of a living organism (pest, fungus, etc.) to control the spread of weeds. Use of the organisms will not eradicate the host plant and must be used in conjunction with other suitable control methods.

The importation of biological control agents is regulated by USDA-APHIS and is allowed by permit only.

Approved biological control methods for field bindweed include:

  • Aceria malherbae (gall mites)
  • Tyta Luctuosa (leaf-feeding moth)

Please note, while the following biological control agents are available for field bindweed, they have proven to be ineffective in the state of Kansas. Therefore, the Kansas Department of Agriculture will not be able to provide any for use.  Other agents may be available for use if the appropriate permit is obtained.

Chemical Control

Herbicides may be used (in accordance with label directions) alone or in conjunction with one or more suitable control methods listed above. A variety of chemicals are available at cost-share pricing and can be purchased at our office.

What Herbicides are approved?

Herbicides currently recommended and approved for control of Field Bindweed are as follows:

  • 2,4-D (Amine or Lo-Vol Ester)
  • dicamba
  • diflufenzopyr
  • diquat
  • glyphosate
  • imazapic
  • imazapyr
  • picloram
  • quinclorac

Other products labeled and registered for use on this noxious weed in Kansas may be used in accordance with label directions but are not available for cost-share.  Be sure to follow all label directions and precautions. For additional information consult the most recent edition of the KSU publication of “Chemical Weed Control for Field Crops, Pastures, Rangeland, and Noncropland”.

When should I apply herbicides?

Field Bindweed is typically treated from May to October. It is important to remember that regardless of the month, plants must be actively growing at the time of application in order for treatment to be effective.