Reducing Yucca in Rangeland

Reducing Yucca in Rangeland

Yucca plants develop rapidly once established on drier rangeland sites.
By: Bruce Anderson, Nebraska Extension Forage Specialist

Yucca plants, which are also called soapweed by many people, have nearly overrun many rangelands. There are ways, though, to reclaim those grazinglands.

Across much of western and central Nebraska, yucca has nearly taken over some pastures. While they may be able to produce attractive flowers, dense stands of yucca can devastate grass production.

Yucca plants develop rapidly once established on drier rangeland sites. They produce a deep taproot that competes aggressively for the limited water in these soils. Since cattle rarely eat it during summer, grass production decreases while yucca thrives.

Herbicides like Remedy, Tordon, Velpar, or Cimarron Plus can control yucca, but only when each individual plant is sprayed directly. General spraying to control yucca on rangeland is cost prohibitive, although small patches can and should be controlled before they expand.

When yucca covers too much land to spray, the only cost effective way to reduce its impact is to winter graze. During winter, yucca often is the only green plant around. Sometimes cows actually will get down on their knees, lay their head sideways on the ground, and chew through the base of the plant to get to the moist, tender parts. After several consecutive winters of grazing, yucca stands can be reduced so grass again thrives during summer.

Now that summer range is dormant for the winter, grazing will do little harm to your grasses. Ample summer rain also produced more grass than usual so grass is more plentiful than usual for winter grazing. This might be a good time to reclaim some of your rangeland back from yucca. Winter grazing is your best tool.

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Spell Check

Ellsworth, NE
1/8/2015 07:30 PM

  Yucca is Not a Weed that needs to be sprayed!! Most of the places that have excessive yucca are Never grazed in the Winter and are not grazed much in the Summer. But in order for cows to eat yucca there needs to be other grazing available, and the cattle will eat them in late Dec. through Feb., according to my experience. I have seen Fall calves mow them off, head straight for them when moving to a different pasture. Winter grazing is the Best Tool to control Yucca. Grazing yucca in the Spring where the yucca is producing "pods" will curb the spread of more and cattle will thrive on a diet that contains with the "pods". Spraying yucca with _____, what else is it going to "control" (kill)?? In my opinion, there is TOO much ranching, farming, doctoring-human or animal, and gardening with and by chemicals! Cattle are to graze nutrient dense grass, natural to the environment that they live in. Cattle will chose the plants to graze to get the optimal amount of nutrients that they need. Cows can and will work for You IF You expect them to. If they are working for You they will eat yucca and do well on them. I wish I had access to more yucca in the Winter and in late Spring!!


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