For some time, the non-native, invasive common reed or phragmites (Phragmites australis) has been a problem along the edge of Black Flats Marsh near the boardwalk at the farm. The phragmites had substantially overtaken and all but eliminated the native plants that should have been the dominant species in the marsh.
Fortunately, there is a program that can control the invasive plant though it cannot eliminate it. The Town of Yarmouth has contracted with Wilkinson Ecological to address the phragmites problem along the edge of marsh near the Farm. The program will ultimately take five years to complete. Wilkinson will apply a defoliant to the plants to systemically kill the rhizomes by which the plants spread.
In July 2015, a Wilkinson crew mowed all plants to either side of the boardwalk to the ground. While this eliminated the visible plants, it left the root system intact. New shoots very quickly appeared and when they were about 12 to 18 inches tall, a machine was used to coat every shoot with a defoliant. That was the start of the multi-year process.
In the fall, a Wilkinson crew returned to the Farm to mow down the new growth. New shoots will appear in the spring and again, the defoliant will be applied. The application of a defoliant to new growth will be repeated until the amount of the defoliant is sufficient to kill the rhizomes.
Even when the stand of phragmites that exists now is removed after three to five years, the work will not be done. Not all areas in Black Flats Marsh that are infested with phragmites are to be treated so significant stands of the invasive plant will remain. If the treated area adjacent to the Farm is left alone, the phragmites will gradually re-infest the area. A continuing effort will be necessary to keep the area of the marsh near the farm free of the phragmites, a never ending task.