The fall is great time implement a three step program (evaluation, planning, and action) that will benefit your grazing program.
By: Neil Rhodes, University of Tennessee Extension
Although there is really no "slack time" for you as a cattle producer, hopefully as fall rolls around you will be able to devote some time to your pasture and grass hay weed management program. First, this is an excellent time to review your notes from the past year and evaluate your overall satisfaction with your weed management program. Think about your most serious weed problems and what you were able to do about them. What types of things might have limited your success? Is there anything you would change, such as herbicide selection or rate per acre, timing of application, spray volume, sprayer size, etc.? Also, do you plan to renovate (add legumes) any of your pastures in 2015? If so and if you used only 2,4-D or dicamba in 2014, these materials will not be present in the soil when you seed clovers in February to March 2015. However, if you used residual herbicides containing either aminopyralid (GrazonNext HL or Chaparral) or picloram (Grazon P+D) for tough weeds such as horsenettle and tall ironweed you should consider delaying renovation until 2016 to obtain a full stand of clovers. No doubt you can think of other questions to ask yourself. A little time spent on this now will allow you to better formulate a plan for the remainder of this and next year.
Fall is also a good time for action. Keep in mind that University of Tennessee research and producer experience has continued to show that fall (late October to mid-December) is an excellent time to control buttercups. Why is that? Buttercups emerge in the fall and they are small and actively growing then. Remember that one of the most important keys to success is to spray buttercups before they bloom. This is an automatic with fall applications, given that buttercups do not bloom until spring. In most cases, 2,4-D ester at 1 qt/ provides excellent control of buttercups in the fall. Producers are encouraged to begin scouting fields in early October for these weeds. The same rules apply as with spring applications. Favorable weather (3 days of day time highs of 60 F); plenty of water (at least 20 gallons per acre spray volume); and the addition of a good, nonionic surfactant (1 qt/100 gallons of spray mix) are all important ingredients in success. An added bonus for the fall spray program is that it is also a very good time of the year to control musk thistle, buckhorn plantain and wild turnip. These are controlled by 2,4-D and are often present in the same fields alongside buttercups. Keep in mind that buckhorn plantain is a perennial, and heavily infested fields may require a second application of 2,4-D in March.
So, hopefully some time spent this fall in terms of evaluation, planning and action regarding pasture and grass hay weed management will pay big dividends in terms of your forage quality as we move into 2015. And, always remember that good herbicide stewardship is everyone’s responsibility. Prior to application, be sure to thoroughly read and understand the herbicide label, and follow all directions and precautions. For more information on herbicide stewardship, please visit our website: herbicidestewardship.utk.edu.