Agricultural News: Timing is the Key to Controlling Pasture Weeds

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   Most Tennessee producers will label weeds as the most cumbersome problem they face in their pastures.  While fields filled with buttercups in spring may offer aesthetic benefits to passersby, to producers they are simply a pest.

   Gary Bates, University of Tennessee professor of plant sciences and director of the UT Beef and Forage Center, says that getting rid of weeds is a matter of timing.

   “Nuisances like buttercups are easily removed with herbicides, but many producers don’t think about spraying weed killers until it is too late for spraying to be effective,” said Bates. He recommends producers pay attention to the following concerns to help them control buttercup and similar pasture pests.

   1.  Spray. Buttercup and thistle need to be sprayed before they bloom. Three days of 60 degrees F or higher temperatures are needed to activate weed growth, so pay attention to weather patterns. If leaves show damage from recent frost, wait for new growth.

   2.  What to spray? Bates recommends the ester formulation of 2,4-D as an effective weed killer. However, there are several brand names and formulations of 2,4-D, so read the label to make sure you are getting the proper chemical.

   3.  How much to spray? Most brands of 2,4-D are formulated with four pounds of active ingredient per gallon. With this formulation, two pints per acre in at least 20 gallons of water per acre will be successful. Be sure to read and follow all label instructions.

   4.  Do control measures affect clover? This rate of 2,4-D will kill all red clover, but will do minimal damage to established white clover. Do not seed clover for six weeks after herbicide application.
   Article Courtesy of UTIA, Dr. Gary Bates, UT Beef and Forage Center, 865-974-7208, gbates@utk.edu. Photo credit: “Pasture Weed Fact Sheet: Buttercups” UTIA Publication W232

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