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News Story
Updated: 05/23/2013 08:04:08AM

Managing weeds in pastureland

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ARCADIAN PHOTO BY AL SMOKE

Ken Johnson, DeSoto County IFAS Extension agent and Dr. Brent Sellers from the IFAS Range Cattle Research and Education Center in Ona conducted a “weed walk” on April 25. The field the group visited was choked with thistle, a particularly difficult weed to eliminate.

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ARCADIAN PHOTO BY AL SMOKE

A close look at the spiny stems of thistle shows why cattle avoid it. Treatment when the plants are in the rosette stage is important—as once the plants are tall tougher more expensive herbicides are needed.

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ARCADIAN PHOTO BY AL SMOKE

We waded into a thick stand of tough Cogon grass. This plant now categorized as an invasive species was intentionally introduced in 1932 because it was thought to have forage potential. The root mass may comprise 66 to 90 percent of the biomass.

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ARCADIAN PHOTO BY AL SMOKE

Several area ranchers turned out for a recent field seminar on identifying weeds. Handouts on weed identification and weed management were provided.

By Karen Smoke

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If you have a pasture — be it large acreage for cattle or a small pasture for a horse or two — more than likely you have weeds. One definition of a weed is a plant out of place. But when it comes to controlling weeds, there’s no simple answer.

Weeds reduce forage quality, and some weeds can be toxic to livestock. Healthy pastures with good grass cover will have fewer weed problems. Poorly fertilized overgrazed pastures are an open invitation for weeds. Managing weeds can be costly, so your best defense is to invest in fertilizer and soil pH adjustment if needed before weeds become a problem. Rotating your pasture and providing supplemental hay are also important in maintaining pasture quality.

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