What are the steps to consider
in controlling weeds?
Step 1. ID weeds. This is the most important step, in weed control.
Step 2. Prevent spread of weeds. Many weeds are easily spread. Weeds can be spread by seeds that are dispersed by hay bales, plants that reach maturity, livestock movements, equipment (particularly mowing equipment), wind, water, wildlife, and finally through planting contaminated grass seed (use certified seed!)
Step 3. Cultural control. a. Manage for your specific grass. TAKE SOIL TESTS for the ENTIRE PASTURE. Provide for proper fertilization. b. Grazing management Use rotational grazing systems, animals will often consume weeds they would avoid in continuous grazing systems. c. Mechanical control, primarily mowing, will help control some weeds especially broadleaf weeds. However, mowing can spread mature weed seeds and encourage greater infestation. If there is no chemical control labeled for a particular weed or if weeds are too mature, mowing may be your only choice. Always mow at the proper height! In some cases burning, when safe and permitted, may control some weeds in forages.
Step 4. Biological control is the use of natural systems to suppress weeds. This is generally a longer term approach. It includes the use of natural agents such as plants, herbivores, or insects to suppress weeds. Step 5. Chemical Control. Considerations for choosing a herbicide include: (1) Correct identification of weed. (2) Type of pasture/forage. (3) Animal species. (4) Post-application restrictions. (5) Carryover.
There are many decisions involved with the use of herbicides, beginning with the correct ID of the weeds present, familiarity with the weed type (grass or broadleaf, annual or biennial or perennial, cool season or warm season), followed by choice of herbicide and determining the correct timing and rate of application.
Spot-spraying specific weeds may be the most effective and least costly.
For some herbicides there are restrictions for grazing animals. There may also be haying restrictions. Always read and follow label directions and pay attention to any grazing and haying restrictions. The label is the law! Many farmers and home gardeners have reported damage to vegetable and flower crops after applying horse or livestock manure, compost, hay, or grass clippings to the soil. (When buying these products always ask what chemicals were used to control broadleaf weeds.) Following label directions listed under “Carryover Injury” will avoid problems growing vegetable and flower crops.
Proper timing of herbicide application cannot be overemphasized. The best way to control weeds post-emergence with herbicides is when the weeds have germinated, are young, and are actively growing.
The May 14 Catawba Valley Cattlemen’s educational program will discuss in more detail Step 5, Chemical Controls for warm-season weeds. Check out our website for the newsletter which gives more details on each subject listed above. The Website is: Lincoln.ces.ncsu.edu . Find the May 2019 newsletter to see all the details. All are welcome to attend meetings and learn more on Weed Management.
If you have any questions call the Lincoln Livestock Agent, Glenn Detweiler, at 704-736-8452 or my cell:405-219-1902. Call the Cooperative Extension Service (CES) in Lincolnton at 704-736-8461.
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