Weed control and finer pastures

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The Marion County Cattlemen’s Association met last Thursday evening. The guest speaker was Dr. J. D. Green, extension weed specialist at UK. Dr. Green spoke about the timing necessary for getting optimal control of weeds in pastures and hay fields. Some weeds can be controlled very well by simply mowing at the proper time, while others are more effectively controlled by use of chemical herbicides.
According to Dr. Green, the common mistake farmers make is waiting too long to either mow or spray the weeds. He said most weeds are highly susceptible to control measures when they are very young.
What this means is it is too late to be thinking about weeds we see in our fields now, like cocklebur. These weeds have already flowered and set seed so cutting or spraying them now will kill the remaining green leaves but will do nothing to keep the weeds from growing again next year. Farmers should actually be on the lookout now for spring flowering weeds like poison hemlock and bull thistle.
These weeds start growing in the fall and overwinter in pastures before making their major growth spurt in the spring. The weeds are very easy to control by spraying 2,4-D this fall when they are in their tender growth stages. Just make sure to spray when temperatures will be above 50 degrees or so during the day for several days.
The exception to this is with many perennial weeds like multiflora roses or chicory. Spraying now even though they have already bloomed can be very effective because this time of year these perennials are sending nutrients down to their roots so they will have energy to make it through the winter and initiate new growth in the spring. This leaf to root transfer will take the herbicide to the roots and cause the roots to die.
The other key point made by Dr. Green was that simply killing the weeds won’t necessarily mean a weed free pasture. If the weeds are killed and bare spots are created where the weeds had been, new weeds will likely come up in their place. To keep a clean field farmers need to plant grass and/or legume seed and fertilize and lime the field if needed to fill in the bare spots. The best way to promote a weed free field is to have a thick healthy stand of desirable pasture species.
Farmers need to always be thinking a season or two ahead to maintain the best pastures. Look for young weeds that do not look like a problem now, but that will become a problem three to six months from now. If you have weeds like cocklebur now, odds are that if you do nothing you will have them again at this time next year. Make a note to look for the young plants next May through July and plan control measures for that time rather than waiting until it is too late again for effective control. If you spray later this fall or early winter for winter growing weeds remember to seed something in their place early next spring to keep new weeds from filling in the bare spots.
The extension office will be offering a series of classes this fall for beef farmers called Master Marketer. This is a five-part course focused on the buying and selling of cattle for backgrounding and feeding. The class will explain how to maximize the profitability of feeding cattle through the purchase and sale process, how to budget for profitability and how to manage price risk through the use of futures, options and livestock risk management insurance. This is a series of five classes which will be held Oct. 1, Oct. 15 and Oct. 28, and Nov. 12 and Nov. 26. Classes will be taught by specialists from the University of Kentucky. Cost for the series of classes will be $50, which includes class materials and meals. Marion County Cattlemen’s Association has again committed to paying the fee for its members who take the classes. For more information or to sign up for the course call the extension office.
The Kentucky Beef Network is holding a two-part weed identification and control series at the Eden Shale farm in Owen County. The first session “Know Your Weeds” will be held this Saturday, Sept. 21, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. This will be a hands on meeting with tours of pastures to identify actively growing weeds along with a roundtable discussion on how to control them.
This field day would be a good follow up to the Weed Control session held last week at the Marion County Cattlemen’s Association Meeting last week. Farmers can see first-hand some of the early growth winter annuals Dr. Green discussed.
The second session “Treating Your Weeds” will be held Saturday, Oct. 26, also from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Topics will include sprayer technology, what type of herbicides to use for various weeds and when to use them. There is no charge for either session.
The Lebanon Farmers Market is open every Wednesday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon at the pavilion on M.L. King Avenue in downtown Lebanon. This week, they expect to have apples, watermelon, potatoes, cucumber, tomatoes, yellow and zucchini squash, green beans, sweet corn, garlic, peppers, baked and canned goods, homemade soap, honey, maple syrup and fresh eggs.
The Farmers Market will be open the Saturday of Ham Days at the pavilion downtown. Any Marion County resident with produce, homemade crafts, etc. can pay the single day price of $5 to set up at the pavilion. Call Farmers Market President Terry Williams or the extension office to reserve a spot. Spots will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.
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