“Cast cool-season grasses by hand–such as orchardgrass and Kentucky bluegrass,” Waite says. Webcast | Horse Under Stress? As grass pastures green up during spring, we often are on the lookout for weeds to control. It also runs along the soil. Apply lime and fertilize as needed to keep the pasture plants healthy and growing. LEARN HOW TO STOP THE INVASIVE SPOTTED LANTERNFLY, Coronavirus: Information and resources for the Extension Community. Final Thoughts. In Kentucky it’s our No. Poison hemlock resembles Queen Anne’s lace, but Witt says the easy way to tell the two apart is to look at the stem. But opting out of some of these cookies may affect your browsing experience. Large bush honeysuckle plants are difficult to remove by hand due to an extensive root system. “Horse owners tend to think if there’s green stuff out there and horses are eating, everything must be okay,” says Karen Waite, MS, PhD, extension specialist at Michigan State University. But like any garden or lawn, a pasture must be maintained to flourish. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Common ragweed is distributed widely across the United States and occurs in pastures and cultivated crops. Remember, having a … These plants are toxic to horses; both fresh and dried leaves contain the toxin. Nontoxic endophyte-friendly tall fescue isn’t widely used because it’s so expensive, but there’s a new fescue (also nontoxic and endophyte-free) that has the potential to be excellent. Spiny amaranth/Spiny pigweed (Amaranthus spinosus) This summer annual is widespread in the eastern half of the United States and can take over an entire pasture. Mild neurotoxicity to horses was reported in Europe but is not considered a serious threat in North America. Plant identification can be tricky for the layman, but Witt says your local county agriculture extension agent can help you identify weeds and evaluate your pasture. Common ragweed control is relatively easy: apply herbicides to plants less than 12 inches tall that have not been mowed. It readily survives overgrazing and compacted horse pastures, especially when rainfall is limited. Generally horses nibble on the plant, but they won’t graze it fully unless they have no other plant choice. Obtain a selective weed killer for the pasture. “Hoary alyssum was a big problem for us in Michigan last summer because it’s been so dry,” says Waite. Fescue breeders have done grazing trials with beef animals with it, and this spring we will do grazing trials with pregnant mares.”. Mowing is not as useful for weed management in pastures as you might think, says Witt. (In the case of poisonous weeds or those sprayed using herbicides) the toxin is still in those plants while it’s decaying.”. Some weeds prefer more acidic soils. Get notified when we have news, courses, or events of interest to you. A Frontier Rotary Cutter (US CA) is the tool to use. Rotation also reduces the likelihood of overgrazing, which can lead to bare spots or weakened plants. Are Your Horses Ready for You to be Quarantined? “We have not found a way to control nimblewill,” says Witt. JavaScript seems to be disabled in your browser. Pigweed may have a few thousand seeds per plant. Think of dandelions. It grows in pastures, landscape beds, gardens, fields, and roadsides. These amendments, along with proper seeding rates, should be applied at the right time of year, usually spring or fall, for optimal growth. William Witt, PhD, retired specialist in plant science at the University of Kentucky, says preventive action is key to dealing with weeds, but owners often neglect this side of horse keeping. “In my experience, most problems with weeds can be solved by getting two-thirds more land or getting rid of two-thirds of your horses,” Witt says. 8. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Common milkweed grows throughout North America except in the extreme southern, southwestern, and far western states. For specific recommendations, contact your local extension office or check out the links for your state. “Killing the entire pasture and starting over is something that no one wants to hear,” says Waite. In this case, your next best defense is to mow early in the season, before weeds go to seed and spread even more. Out of these, the cookies that are categorized as necessary are stored on your browser as they are essential for the working of basic functionalities of the website. What’s even worse, though, is when your pets come in from playing outside covered with burrs matted in their fur. “I always discourage people from planting black walnut trees on horse farms,” she says. These can help with weed management. Owners might decide to hand-weed plants that are poisonous (e.g., poison hemlock) or low in number, but for the most part this removal method is not practical. Try spot treatment with herbicides for smaller patches, before they become widespread. Mowing is an effective treatment to prevent seed production. Once a pasture is killed off and reseeded, you won’t be able to let horses back on the pasture until the plants are established, which means one growing season.”, Witt advises keeping horses away from cut or sprayed weeds, and to remove cut weeds from the pasture. So, one can imagine that if weeds are not managed properly, pasture can be badly infested with weeds in a matter of a year or couple of years. There are weeds that have above-ground stems called stolons. That rarely provides excellent results. Quackgrass has rhizomes, which are underground stems, as a means of reproduction. Neglect a pasture, and you’ll find yourself saddled with a long-term weed problem. If this is the option then overseeding or frostseeding may be done afterward. Mowing and hand weeding are effective if done before flower production to prevent seed formation. It can be done to fill in thin or bare spots with desirable plants before the weeds fill in. You can also use herbicides to eradicate this plant. Left alone, thistles can spread quickly and occupy 20% or more of your pasture. Some produce tubers, or bulbs, like wild garlic. Preventing Weeds One of the main reasons weeds invade a pasture is overgrazing, says Witt. “Do not let horses have access to a decaying plant,” he says. This is very time-consuming work, but you can be successful at it. Droughty conditions toughen the cuticles on weeds making absorption more difficult. “Every pasture had horse nettle, an… In extreme cases, horses may eat the weeds—some of which may be poisonous. “You have to kill low-growing weeds with low-mowing, which will kill good forage, too–you shouldn’t mow a pasture below four inches. He is a real solid compact…. Tom Bechman 1 | Apr 14, 2014. Since you want to kill the weeds and keep the grass, you need an herbicide that selects the unwanted weeds and won’t harm the grass. “We have a pasture evaluation program for horses here in Kentucky,” he says. One of the main reasons weeds invade a pasture is overgrazing, says Witt. “If weeds or bare areas comprise less than 30 percent of the field, good agronomic practices will improve the field,” said Lingenfelter. Although toxicologists say it might cause horses to accumulate harmful nitrites in their bodies, this is uncommon. Mowing is ineffective to control it. An annual completes its life cycle in one year. A commonly occurring plant in many pastures and turf types, it is found especially in Kentucky bluegrass fields. “We go out to the (owner’s farm) and take counts across the pasture. Our sources have selected nine weeds prevalent across North American to describe in further detail: 1. Dec 29, 2020 . Healthy pastures are the first step to weed management. The clover provides competition for more desirable grasses, and can even choke out the grasses you are trying to grow. A single mowing will not satisfactorily control most weeds. Infestations in pastures are usually more of a problem during periods of drought or when overgrazing occurs. Healthy pastures provide excellent nutrition for horses during the growing season; an abundance of pasture forage can mean you’ll spend less on hay. A producer must choose what type of weeds to eliminate - either broadleaf or grass weeds. Get a soil test done on your pastures. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Poison hemlock is distributed across the United States and grows most frequently along fence borders in shady and moist areas. 2. Mowing is often ineffective and herbicidal treatment requires multiple applications. The entire pasture can be frostseeded with legumes, which provide nitrogen from the root nodules to feed the grass. This will help them compete with the weeds. Buckhorn plantain is relatively easy to control with several herbicides; however, mowing in pastures is generally ineffective. It produces thousands of little tiny seeds, and anywhere there is a bare space it will germinate. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons, White snakeroot is a warm-season perennial frequently found in shaded areas of pastures near streams or woods. Hand weeding and removing the deep taproot might help. Their roots can be deep, and if you break one another plant will grow in its place. Developing a weed management plan. Spray the right rate at the right time. Read on to learn about controlling cocklebur weeds. Mow when it’s a foot tall.”. Some weeds prefer more acidic soils. Make sure to follow the label instructions, and check for grazing restrictions. “Ordinarily horses will eat around hoary alyssum, but last year they didn’t. “We have a smartphone app and a booklet to help,” he says. Stay up-to-date on the latest news about your horse's health with FREE newsletters from TheHorse.com. If you continue to use the site, we'll assume you're okay with this. Rotation is an excellent management practice to allow pastures to rest. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Bush honeysuckle describes several species of woody honeysuckles found in the eastern United States. Sharon Biggs Waller is a freelance writer for equine ­science and human interest publications. This annual grass is difficult to control, but that didn't stop Michael Cent, local landowner and pharmacist, from trying. 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