With the rainfall last fall and during early winter, many area pastures have a few weeds that will soon be competing with pasture grasses for whatever moisture is still available. It has been estimated that every pound of weeds controlled can return three to seven pounds of forage. That makes this spring’s transition into summer a critical period to address weed control issues and improve our forage production potential. 

Also, taking care of weed problems now prior to cotton planting and emergence minimizes risk of causing damage to crops that may be sensitive to many broadleaf herbicides.  

An integrated weed management strategy can include cultural, mechanical, chemical and biological controls.  Cultural and biological practices might include strategic fertilizer application and timing, irrigation, aeration, and grazing manipulation.

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Often growers practice these without realizing they also impact their weed control program. Most often forage producers focus on mechanical or chemical weed control options and often pondering which method is more advantageous.

Back to yellow herbicides

Mowing pastures for weed control is rarely recommended, and there are several reasons why.  Mowing may make the place look better for a while, but that's about it.

First, it costs as much or more to mow as it does to spray. In fact, a cost comparison done in 2003 actually showed a $2.74 per acre savings from spraying versus shredding. The study estimated the cost associated with mowing one acre with a 40-horsepower tractor pulling a 6-foot rotary mower. The cost of shredding came to $14.24 per acre. This was compared to the same tractor pulling a 30- foot boom sprayer applying 1 quart of Grazon P&D per acre. The cost of spraying came to $11.50 per acre. The cost savings came from reductions in equipment cost and maintenance as well as reduced labor. Since then, the cost of machinery, labor and fuel has increased significantly, but the prices of many pasture herbicides have been relatively static if not lower due to generic alternatives.