Weeds like ragweed, ironweed, broom snakeweed and horseweed are plentiful in many pastures that received extra rain this summer, but spraying now will do little good, says Bruce Anderson, University of Nebraska Extension forage specialist.
“Many weeds are too large to kill so herbicides might only reduce some seed production and may make pastures a bit more attractive,” says Anderson. “Shredding might actually work better to reduce weed seeds if it’s not already too late.”
Two other approaches are better for long-term weed control, he says. “First, rotationally graze with much higher stock density. With many animals on a smaller area to graze, animals will graze some of the weeds they normally might avoid. Other weeds they might trample.”
Also, if you leave quite a bit of residue behind when you move animals to the next small area it will improve the health, vigor and density of your grass, Anderson adds. Healthy, competitive grass stands are essential to reduce weed populations economically over the long term.
Second, target herbicide applications for when they will do the most good. October and early to mid-June usually are the two most effective times to control most perennial weeds and many annuals, especially with herbicides like Grazon, Forefront, Curtail, Milestone, 2,4-D and Banvel. Weed control, along with good grazing, will thicken your grass stands so herbicides won’t be needed as often in the future.
“Don’t let weeds take over your pasture, but don’t spend money controlling them needlessly,” Anderson advises. “A good plan will work best.”