Thistles have long been a thorn in the side, and feet, of farmers. By this time, grasses have been grazed low giving late season thistles added sunshine and increased growth potential. October and November are the best months to fight thistles. Autumn thistle seedlings are in small, flat rosette stages of growth and Bruce Anderson of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln offers some tips for nipping fall thistles in the bud.
Anderson reports, "Among the most effective herbicide treatments for fall is a newer product called Milestone, or a combination of Milestone and 2,4-D called Forefront. Two other very effective herbicides are Tordon 22K and Grazon. (Tordon and Grazon also can kill woody plants, including trees you might want to keep.) 2,4-D also works well while it’s warm, but you will get better thistle control by using a little less 2,4-D and adding a small amount of Banvel or dicamba to the mix."
According to Anderson, there are other herbicides like Redeem, Cimarron and Curtail which can all be equally effective if used properly. Regardless of which herbicide you choose, make certain to read and follow all label directions and get this done before this window closes for the season and thistles re-emerge next year bigger and thornier.
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