Cow on weedy pasture

A management plan that includes herbicides may be necessary as pastures may be  encroached upon by weeds and woody plants.

As we transition into fall, are you seeing more brush and woody weeds in your pastures?

It can be tempting to spray herbicides in fall to manage woody plants and brush. I have been receiving several calls about spraying woody plants in conjunction with thistles. However, counter to what is recommended for thistles, fall spraying may not pay for woody weeds.

Spraying can still be completed on deciduous woody plants if the leaves are still green and actively growing. For many in Nebraska, this has already passed and we don’t want to make applications on dormant plants.

Mowing for brush or smaller woody plants can be completed in fall, but will need to be chemically controlled in the following summer to reduce populations. So, fall may serve as a time for collecting information, making a plan for late spring to early summer, and questioning why woody plants have encroached. Right now, make a plan for June.

  • Know your weeds you are controlling and pick products
  • Make a plan for grazing restrictions after treatment
  • Adjust management practices to increase competition in favor of desirable grasses

Typically, early June is the best time to control woody plants and spraying early rather than later is recommended. So, if we have a warm spring and break dormancy early, spray accordingly.

Also, overgrazing and fertility play a big role in encroaching woody plants, so looking at past records and soil sampling may be a better use of time this fall than actively spraying.

Bottom line: spraying now won’t pay for woody weeds — wait until early summer and use this time to plan ahead and adjust your grazing schedule.