As grasslands remain saturated, pasture managers face shrinking options for winter weed control
By Ryan McGeeney
U of A System Division of Agriculture
March 16, 2018
- Rains, flooding and saturated soil delaying application of herbicides
- Opportunity window to use non-selective herbicides may mean higher input costs
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PERRY COUNTY, Ark. — Even as southeasterly winds have managed to dry the grasslands in Perry County, Cooperative Extension Service agent Kevin Lawson knows that one dry week is not the last word in this wet winter.
Producers in Arkansas — whether they’re growing row crops, pastures, specialty crops or anything else — are always in the midst of a balancing act between too much rain and not enough of it. The month of March has proved no different for growers hoping to knock down winter weeds before pasture grasses emerge from dormancy.
“We’re right at that point where, if we don’t get stuff done this week, bermudagrass pastures are fixing to turn green, and we won’t be able to spray glyphosate anymore,” Lawson said, referring to one of the least expensive, non-selective herbicides on the market.
Lawson said his phone lines began lighting up Monday morning, with growers concerned about applying their shrinking opportunities to apply the herbicide to their pastures, hay fields, sod fields and lawns.
“Things are finally drying now, but it’s supposed to rain again tomorrow, so we’ll see how it goes,” Lawson said Thursday morning. If rains don’t completely saturate fields again, and daytime high temperatures rain low, growers may have one more week to apply non-selective herbicides, he said.
“If they don’t get it, we’ll switch to some different stuff, 2,4-D or something like that, to try to get the broadleaf out,” Lawson said. “The rest of that winter junk, we’ll get rid of after that first cutting of hay.”
The growers of Perry County aren’t alone. Agricultural agents from multiple counties around the state reported heavy rains, flooding and saturated soils in a March 12 crop progress report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Statewide, growers experienced more than 12 rain days during the previous four weeks — a nearly 200 percent increase over the historical norm for that period.
Jason Davis, application technologist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said that selective herbicides tend to be considerably more expensive than non-selective herbicides, simultaneously increasing input costs while frequently decreasing overall success against encroaching weeds.
“If you’d applied glyphosate a couple of weeks ago, depending on where you are in the state, you’d have killed only weeds,” Davis said. “But as the other, more desirable vegetation becomes more active, you can’t spray glyphosate, which is cheap and easy to use. You have to move to more selective herbicides. And because they’re more selective, they’re more expensive.
“It’s the same for homeowners,” he said. “I’m in the same boat. I haven’t had time to do it, and now I’m going to have to pay four to five times more than I would’ve two or three weeks ago.”
To learn about pasture management in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit www.uaex.uada.edu.
About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.
The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
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Media Contact: Rysan McGeeney
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service