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Weed problems will follow the drought

By Dr . Gary Bates Director, UT Beef and Forage Center 1/26/2017


Dr . Gary Bates, Director, UT Beef and Forage Center
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The drought during last summer and fall was devastating on many pastures across the state. The lack of forage caused many producers to begin feeding hay one to two months ahead of normal. The impact of the drought is not over, however. Many producers will see an increase in weed pressure this spring due to tall fescue stand losses from the drought. Now is the time to work to control these weeds. Buttercup, thistle, and plantains can overtake a pasture if they are not controlled.

1. When should I spray? You need to spray before the weeds bloom. This gives you until late March or early April. Wait to spray until daytime temperatures reach 60 degrees for a few days.

2. What should I spray? The ester formulation of 2,4-D is very effective. There are several brand names for this chemical, so read the label to make sure you are applying the right herbicide.

3. Which weeds will be killed? For easily controlled weeds such as buttercup and thistle, low rates of 2, 4-D will work. Weeds such as buckhorn and broadleaf plantain are harder to control and will require slightly higher rates for good control. Weeds such as curly dock may need a different herbicide like Grazon Next. Follow label instructions and apply the chemical in 20-25 gallons of water per acre. It is important to read label instructions carefully, and follow all instructions, including avoiding drift to sensitive crops and observing waiting periods before cutting hay.

4. Will this kill my clover? Low rates of 2,4-D will not kill established white clover, but it will kill red clover. Higher rates or other herbicides may kill all clover.

Remember that herbicides are just one step in a forage weed control program. Fertilizing and applying lime according to soil test, and good grazing management will also help reduce the impact of weeds on a pasture. Consider planting more fescue this fall if your stand is weak, as stronger forage plots are less susceptible to weeds.

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