Best Practices to Control the Amount of Summer Weeds in Pastures 

Plan carefully to control summer weeds. Director of UT's Beef and Forage Center gives advice for producers to effectively deal with nuisances like horsenettle and spiny pigweed. Photo by Jon van Grinderbeek on Unsplash

During the summer months weeds can grow uncontrollably in pastures unless dealt with properly. Gary Bates, professor and director of the University of Tennessee Beef and Forage Center, lends some advice on how to effectively deal with those relentless summer weeds.

According to Bates, “Part of the problem with summer weeds is that they can take over because the tall fescue is slumping. This offers very little competition to keep the weeds from dwarfing everything else in the field.”

There are a variety of different weed management techniques that can be used.  Many producers use the clipping technique. The clipping technique utilizes timely mowing to stay ahead of those pesky summer weeds. Bates says while this technique does yield results, if the technique isn’t applied at the right time the benefits of this method will be greatly reduced. “If you apply this technique too late the plants have had time to produce seed for next year’s weed crop,” says Bates.

While clipping is harder to execute time wise, spraying herbicides is an easy way to stay on top of summer weed production. Bates says that when using herbicides such as Grazon Next for horsenettle or 2,4-D for spiny pigweed or ragweed, it is important to apply those herbicides at the right time. Bates also suggests spraying when weeds are 6 inches tall or less. Once the weeds get larger your ability to control the growth of the weeds will get harder.

Another issue to think about when it comes to summer weeds is that the seeds can germinate most of the summer. You may have sprayed your pasture once and killed the weeds, but once it rains on that field there is the potential of having more weed germination seed.

In areas where pastures are dominated by annual weeds such as spiny pigweed and ragweed, Bates suggests spraying at least twice to get season-long control. Bates says to check on your pastures regularly and evaluate those pastures to determine if you need to apply more herbicides to that pasture.

For more information on specific weeds and the appropriate herbicides to use, contact your local Extension office or check Look under the Forage/Weed Management section for specific recommendations.

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Gary Bates, UT Beef and Forage Center, 865-974-7324,​​