Himalayan Balsam Wales

Balsam Blog 1

Hi my name is Thomas and I wish to share experiences on dealing with the control of Himalayan Balsam.

I am a contractor for the Countryside Council for Wales the Environment Agency Wales and the Forestry Commission Wales in a joint project to eradicate Himalayan Balsam from the river Ystwyth.

The project was started in summer 2009 and I am pleased to say that we are finally making a marked difference.

In 2009 we found the source and have been clearing an area from the source down river methodically. It is my belief that the seed bed lasts for 18 to 24 months therefore only now are we realising a difference in the area covered.

We are using 3 methods of clearing the Balsam, Hand weeding, Hand held sickle, and Strimming.

From previous experience you have the hit the same areas a minimum of three times a year starting from when the plant first shows signs of wanting to flower and before it starts to seed. This year we are doing four sweeps once in June, July, August, and September. The starting date will however change around the UK depending on location and altitude.

Last week the 13th June to the 17th June we went over what we have covered the two previous years and were pleasantly surprised of the difference we have made, as last year did not show much change. We therefore have more of a budget to continue further down river. Although there were still some plants in areas, these were localised and only less than 10% of what we have had to deal with on previous years.

I hope readers will find this encouraging that it can be done even in difficult and widespread terrain.



Balsam 2009


Balsam 2011



Good luck with any Balsam project you may have.




Balsam 2009


Balsam 2011





5 thoughts on “Balsam Blog 1”

  1. Charlotte says:

    Hi Tom,
    That’s really quite impressive results! Have you noticed a difference in the method you used? E.g. are you finding hand pulling to be more effective than strimming, or is it all just dependant on the site?
    Cheers, Charlotte

  2. Tom says:

    Hi Charlotte,
    Thanks for the enquiry. I havent spotted any noticeable difference in methods. There are areas that i have hand weeded where nothing has returned but these areas were sparce to begin with so it is difficult to compare. Also large areas that have been strimmed have had no return groath so the good news is they both work!

  3. Tamsin says:

    Hello! wow and well done!
    and HELP..!
    We have recently moved to Llanfynydd and have just discovered that our neighbouring field (bordered along the bottom and our side by a stream is solid balsam, about 2 acres probably- seed pods have formed and a few are pinging at touch so are we too late?
    I am assuming, if we can manage it and we are going to have to get some help, that if we strim as much as we can it will help to at least contain the spread even if some of the pods are popping already-
    Will the seed pods eventually germinate even if the balsam’s cut down before they have a chance to open?
    One thought is to get pigs in there next year – do you think this would eradicate it?
    I understand some regrowth may happen in 2 years but it would hopefully be much reduced by then and easier to keep on top of.
    sorry for the ramble- bit shocked at the size of the problem!
    THanks, Tamsin.

    1. thomas says:

      Hi although quite late in the season for a 1st hit you will benifit from cutting it down.
      Grazing the field will help with any animal. It is important however to find the sourse of it as it will continue otherwise.
      The plant dies quite quickly when cut so there is a good chance alot of seeds wont germinate.
      In essence keep bashing it and it will eventually go !

  4. Tamsin says:

    Thanks Tom!
    Balsam bashing…maybe a new sport for 2012…

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