Farm and Ranch
Texas pastures, rangelands experience weedy spring
By Adam Russell, Texas A&M
May 18, 2019
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College Station, Texas -- Forage-producing areas of the state appear to be experiencing a bumper crop of weeds.

Dr. Vanessa Corriher-Olson, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service forage specialist, Overton, said hay producers across the state continue to report excess weeds.

Corriher-Olson said weed issues, especially in forage-producing areas like East, Central and Southeast Texas, started late last year as drought reduced hay production. Drought was followed by untimely rain that prevented planting cool-season forages such as ryegrass, winter wheat, oats, rye and triticale.

Lack of growth and overgrazing summer pastures opened the canopy for seeds to receive sunshine and germinate. The lack of cool-season plantings reduced competition for sunlight, moisture and nutrients, which allowed weeds like Texas groundsel, identified by their small yellow flowers, and others to flourish.

“It was a combination of all those events and conditions that allowed weeds to fill the void,” she said.

Corriher-Olson said weeds like Texas groundsel are already blooming, which means they are at the end of their life cycle. She said mowing them is best though producers should prepare to treat pastures with herbicides next February or March when weeds begin growing again. 

Producers should always refer to herbicide product labels when treating pastures, Corriher-Olson said.

“Most people are just now reacting to what they are seeing in their pastures,” she said. “It’s understood that mowing will spread weed seeds, but it’s necessary to open the canopy for Bermuda grass and Bahiagrass. They just need to remember the issue and be prepared to manage it next season.”

Mowing will allow summer grasses to grow, she said. Summer grasses like Bermuda grass are emerging, but nighttime temperatures have not been in the 60s consistently in more northern locations, which is necessary for growth.

Planting cool-season grasses in the fall will also help mitigate reemergence of weeds next season, she said.

“Everyone thinks the weed problems were worse this year than in the past, but I think the pasture conditions and weather and other factors made them appear to be worse,” she said. “It’s certainly a lesson in management of pastures.

“There’s not much we can do about weather, but proper management of pastures throughout the year is critical to ensure weeds are not outcompeting our forage grasses for resources like moisture and soil nutrients.”