Antilley Ranch field day centers on brush

Some 300 visitors filled six large buses for the Dow AgroSciences Heritage Tour of the Antilley Ranch this spring at Wingate, Texas, just outside Abilene.

Of major interest was the experimental research work on mesquite control with Sendero herbicide, the first new herbicide for mesquite in 25 years. The herbicide is a standalone product that is a combination of clopyralid and aminopyralid. Its safety places it as a
nonrestricted-use herbicide.

“There are no grazing restrictions, and it’s environmentally friendly,” said Charlie Hart, Texas AgriLife Extension Service range specialist, Stephenville.

Key Points

A large group of tour attendees learns about brush control at Antilley Ranch.

Sendero herbicide offers a new defense in controlling mesquite.

Timing is critical when making any herbicide application.


Sendero was approved this year by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Hart said Sendero is labeled for use at 1.75 pints per acre, or just under a quart. It is labeled strictly for foliar applications on mesquite. It works as an auxin-like growth regulator. (Do not mix it with diesel.) The soil temperature must be at least 75 degrees F at 12 inches or deeper.

Timing is everything

Dow AgroSciences emphasizes that timing is critical for mesquite spraying and offers these guidelines:

Spraying is acceptable from 42 to 63 days after bud break.

Do not spray from 63 to 72 days after bud break (per bean elongation during that time).

Spraying from 72 to 90 days after bud break is acceptable.

Ron Sosebee, noted range expert, Lubbock, spoke to the big tour via video and emphasized two major requirements that must be met for effective brush control: the soil temperature being warm enough, and the carbohydrates moving to the basal bud zone of the mesquite. You want to spray mesquite when carbohydrates are moving to the roots because herbicides travel in the same direction with the carbohydrates.

“Both those conditions must be met simultaneously to kill mesquite,” Sosebee stressed. “When you topkill mesquite but don’t root-kill mesquite, you can get a situation that’s worse than before.”

Sosebee looks beyond just calendar days. He appraises mesquite visually. He said when the mesquite goes from the white flower to yellow flower stage, that’s when carbohydrates are moving to the basal bud zone, and it’s a good time to foliar-spray mesquite, assuming the ground also is sufficiently warm.

Marc Fisher of Dow AgroSciences cautioned if someone tells you they have a product that can be used without regard to timing, they are just trying to sell you something.

Paul Baumann, Texas AgriLife Extension Service weed specialist, College Station, agreed. He said timing is critical whether controlling mesquite or other brush or unwanted weeds. Baumann said it is important to identify plants on the range. He said applications can’t always be targeted to a certain calendar date, but rather the growth stage of the plant.

Antilley Ranch

The Antilley Ranch was established in 1941 by Frank K. Antilley and his father, Frank H., of Abilene. It originally was made up of 14 small farms bought one at a time from several local farm families. They operated it together until 1956, when Frank K. assumed his father’s portion of the ranch and began operating the
3,800-acre ranch with wife Marianne and their three children, Cindy, Tommy and Gary. Until his passing in 2004, Frank K. devoted his life to improving the ranch. He was years ahead of his time in grazing systems and range conservation.

Today, the ranch uses a one-main-herd, short-duration grazing system, which is an efficient way to harvest grasses and better manage available forage. Cattle are grazed in a specific pasture for 35 to 50 days with the aim of harvesting two-thirds of the forage and leaving one-third. This system, as well as the number of pastures on the ranch, allows the grazed pasture to be at rest for 12 to 15 months.

The ranch has used this method since the 1940s. It wasn’t until the 1970s that conservationists came up with the name “high-intensity, low-frequency grazing,” which was the same system pioneered by the Antilley Ranch some 30 years earlier. Frank K. was recognized in 1965 as Texas’ “Outstanding Conservation Rancher,” and in 1968, he received the Excellence in Grazing Management Award from the Texas Section, Society for Range Management.

Brothers Tommy and Gary Antilley only recently retired from long careers as county agents for the Texas AgriLife Extension Service and have returned to the daily ranch operation. They aim to see the Antilley Ranch in good stewardship for many years to come.

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GET A LOOK: Visitors to the Antilley Ranch during the Dow AgroSciences Heritage Tour saw mesquite control achieved on test plots with the new Sendero herbicide.

This article published in the July, 2012 edition of THE FARMER-STOCKMAN.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2012.