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John Fulton


John Fulton
Former County Extension Director



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In The Backyard

Horticulture columns and tips done on a timely basis
giant ragweed

Allergy Season - Itchy Eyes and a Sore Throat

Posted by John Fulton -

If you're one that usually suffers from the fall allergy season, you know the symptoms all to well. Many people blame goldenrod as the culprit, when it is mostly ragweed problems. This season, the pollen has been prolific due to a great growing season for many weeds – including the ragweeds.

In our area, we have two types of ragweed. The most noticeable is giant ragweed. Giant ragweed, also called horseweed, and it can grow well over 10 feet tall. It is very noticeable as one of the few weeds that grows taller than our Illinois corn. The other type of ragweed is common ragweed. It is generally less than six feet tall, and not nearly as noticeable.

Ragweeds tend to bloom in late summer. The period can range from mid-August to mid-September. They put out a lot of pollen when they bloom. The amount of pollen is one problem, but the shape of the pollen is the other. The shape of the pollen is more jagged and sharp along the edges, making it more of an irritant than other types of pollen.

Add in the usual ragweed problems, alternating wet and dry conditions, and early leaf drop, and we have the recipe for an allergy sufferer's nightmare. There are also several leaf molds that are at work, and that compounds the allergy problem.

What can you do? First, try to eliminate ragweed in your particular area. Two, avoid the mid to late morning period in the great outdoors. This is when more pollen is released. Three, you can stay indoors (or office or car) with air conditioning. And, if your problems are particularly troublesome, talk to your doctor. There are prescriptions and over-the-counter that can help alleviate at least some of the symptoms. My doctor keeps telling me this particular season was the latest in the "worst ever" category – for about six years running it keeps getting worse. At least, there is the old statement of "misery loves company" and you're not alone.



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