As we continue our activities in pastures and meadows during this summer season, here a reminder of fundamentals on weed control from Dr. Vanessa Olsen, forage specialist for Texas A&M Agrilife Extension: Our human nature is to find a simple, one-time solution for our problems. Unfortunately, this simple, one time solution does not exist for weed control in pastures and hay meadows. There are several factors that are important when it comes to weed control. These include:
Weed Identification: We cannot make the best management decisions if we don’t even know what the plant is we are trying to eradicate. Identification will determine the timing of our herbicide application along with the herbicide we choose. There are a multitude of resources available to help with identification. County extension agents, extension specialist, websites books, etc. Identification is important since some herbicides are more effective on certain weed species than others. Correct identification of the target plant helps ensure the selection of the most effective herbicide as well as most effective time of application. As a general rule, herbicides are more effecting in young stages of the weed but those are harder to identify at that stage.
Timing of Application: Once we have identified the weed we can determine if the plant is an annual, biennial or a perennial. Growth pattern will influence our timing to maximize control as well as reduce future populations. Annual plants, like wooly croton, complete their life cycle in one year/season. Ideal time to spray annual weeds with herbicide is when they are small and growing, well before they produce any flower or seed. Perennials complete their life cycle in multiple years/seasons. They often reproduce by seed and can regrow from root structures. An example of a perennial is blackberry/dewberry. Most perennials need to be sprayed with a herbicide at blooming or shortly thereafter. Identification will help determine the best time to be the most effective with given herbicides.
Follow the Label Directions: Strict adherence to label directions is required by law. Paying close attention to label directions will also ensure safe, effective, and economical use. Herbicide labels contain directions for proper rate and timing of application, a list of susceptible species, and information regarding cleanup and disposal following use.
Remember: The label is the law. Always read the pesticide label before using. Do not follow recommendations against the law.