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When ranchers wage war on mesquite in West Texas, the Vail X Series Grubber fronts the attack

While the mesquite tree may be an iconic symbol of the U.S. Southwest, it’s also symbolic of the environmental havoc wreaked by invasive species.

The ubiquitous mesquite tree grows — and flourishes — on more than 50 million Texas acres, almost one-third of the state’s land area. This creates a real problem for ranchers and farmers who not only lose acreage to the stubborn, fast-growing shrub, but also scarce water reserves. A single mesquite tree can consume nearly 21 gallons of water per day. Their tap roots have been known to extend to depths of more than 100 feet, where they can draw from moisture deep below the surface during dry conditions.

Joey Henderson, a former John Deere salesman and rancher, has a brush clearing business in West Texas, where he and his son, Will, work to give the shrubs a not-so-subtle hint. “We primarily work on pasture and Conservation Reserve Program lands that have been completely taken over by mesquite,” Henderson says. “And we pull them up root and all.”

Henderson relies on the Vail X Series Grubber attached to his John Deere compact track loader. Although he has had the grubber only a few months, Henderson estimates he has put more than 200 hours on it in what he calls “really nasty conditions.” The Vail X Series Grubber is designed for use with compact track loaders like Henderson’s, as well as skid steers and utility tractors, and features a 10-inch T-1 steel grubbing edge, high visibility and ease of use, and effective taproot removal essential to targeting invasive species. “The Vail X Series Grubber is a very efficient tool,” Henderson says. “I can get 500 plants per hour, depending on the thickness.”

Invasive species like mesquite are not relegated to Texas. There are more than an estimated 4,000 invasive plant species in the United States, and they can be found in forests, fields, wetlands, streams, rivers, bays and coastlines. The introduction of invasive species can have a dramatic effect on natural resources, human health and the economy at an estimated $122 billion per year.

As awareness about the harmful effects of exotic and invasive species increases, so does consumer demand for native landscaping, the use of native plants to restore the landscape or as substitutes for exotic ornamental plantings.

Creating a native landscape — whether pasture, field, park or residential lot — first requires the removal of any non-native or invasive species. Though chemical and biological removal works in some cases, professional brush clearers like Henderson say grubbing is the most effective method. “The beauty of the Vail X Grubber is, when I pull the plant up by the root, it’s gone, and it’s not coming back.”

In addition to the Grubber, Vail X Series offers the following land clearing attachments:

For a list of invasive species by state, refer to the Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health at http://www.invasive.org/

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