USDA data indicates that U.S. cattle numbers have increased by nearly one million head compared to last year. And with replacement heifers making up 200,000 head of that growth, itâ€™s a good indication herd expansion is in full swing. Itâ€™s also a good bet that most of those replacements will be spending quite a bit of time on grass.
Invasive and noxious weeds compete aggressively with beneficial forage grasses for water and nutrients, resulting in reduced production. Fortunately, cattlemen and land managers can take steps now that will give their grazing acres a big head start next spring. Fall is an excellent and cost-efficient time to remove competitive, undesirable plants and free up forage production for growing herds.
"A thick, healthy sod cover can out-compete and suppress weed infestations, to a point," says Tom Gee, Dow AgroSciences Range and Pasture Specialist. "But drought-weakened or heavily grazed pastures provide little resistance. And that means youâ€™ll continue losing production even when rains return."
Controlling invasive weeds while grasses rest and rebuild during the fall can provide excellent long-term returns.Late-season moisture germinates a flush of new weed seedlings or stimulates regrowth in perennials. Lush young plants are especially susceptible to herbicide applications. Tough-to-kill perennials, such as leafy spurge, Russian knapweed, and Canada thistle, are more vulnerable, too.
As they prepare for dormancy, they transfer nutrients from their leaves to their root systems, helping move fall-applied TordonÂ® 22K herbicide deep into the roots for a more complete kill, and ensuring a better return on your herbicide investment.
"Delaying treatment until after the first frost â€“ but before a hard freeze (visible leaf damage) â€“ will help make the herbicide treatment more effective," Gee says. "And applied at the labeled rate, Tordon 22K will keep working through spring, stopping new weed sprouts and giving forage grasses an extra advantage."
Sericea lespedeza also is a good candidate for early fall control with Dow's new PastureGard herbicide. This troublesome invader is found in pastures throughout Missouri, Oklahoma, eastern Kansas and into southeastern Nebraska.
You can target these acre-hogging, fence-wrecking pests this fall, winter or year-round. Low-volume basal or cut-stump individual plant treatments with Remedy herbicide provide excellent control of saltcedar, cottonwood, elms, Osage orange (hedge/bois dâ€™arc), locust, Russian olive, multiflora rose and many other species.
Every year, like clockwork, late-summer or fall moisture sends broadleaf weeds and forage grasses off to the races in a high-stakes competition for water, nutrients, space and dominance. Depending on the winner, it can end in big dividends or devastating losses for landowners and livestock producers.
You can find more information on these applications, including suggested equipment and tank-mix guides, at www.RangeAndPasture.com in the Products and Treatments section.