West Summary

Cattle prices are expected to trend higher this season, which puts more value on increasing forage production from available acres.

Spring is the best time to prepare for maximum productivity by implementing strategic weed management, says Gerald (G.W.) Hobson, DuPont Crop Protection range and pasture specialist in Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico.

“As certain areas continue to recover from drought, many pastures are short on grass cover.

“Timely weed control this spring will give grasses a better chance to re-establish and develop strong root systems,” he adds. “That will make them more productive throughout the season.”

South-Central Summary

Plenty of moisture across most of the southern region is providing optimism for a good haying and grazing season ahead.


“This year’s higher cattle prices emphasize the value of maximizing grass production from the start this spring,” says Matt McGowin, DuPont Crop Protection range and pasture specialist for Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky.

“More grass means more beef, and getting ahead of weeds in pastures and hayfields is one of the best ways to increase grass production throughout the season,” he adds. “But it’s important to start early.”

North-Central Summary

Higher cattle prices and increased moisture in many parts of the region are providing extra motivation for cattle producers to make the most of this season’s forage production in pastures and on rangeland.

Taking a little extra time to thoroughly scout those acres this spring can provide critical information to make the best decisions on weed and grazing management, says Chris Bryan, DuPont Crop Protection range and pasture specialist for Nebraska, Kansas and Colorado.

“The two issues go hand in hand. We often see that overgrazing can lead to increased weed pressure,” he says. “Maintaining the proper balance requires developing a long-term plan.”

“Moisture levels vary greatly around the region and even within states, so seek out local expertise to help tailor your weed control decisions this season,” adds Robby Brattain, DuPont Crop Protection range and pasture specialist for Montana and Wyoming.

Nevin duPlessis

Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah and Nevada

Spring is a busy season, but making time to scout pastures and rangeland can help catch weed infestations before they sap serious levels of moisture and nutrients from grasses.

Where soil conditions are dry, weed management is even more important to preserve moisture.

Noxious weeds, including medusahead rye and cheatgrass, continue to plague rangeland managers and require diligent efforts to control.

Medusahead rye is a winter annual that quickly crowds out desirable grasses and is unpalatable to cattle and sheep. It commonly follows cheatgrass and often changes the soil temperature and moisture dynamics of infested rangeland, reducing seed germination of other grasses and creating fuel for wildfires.

A timely spring herbicide application is one of the most effective means of control.

To control many other noxious weeds, timely spring application of a sulfonylurea herbicide could be very cost-effective this year. An application in April or May, while weeds are still actively growing, will be most effective.

Watch for grasshoppers this spring, too, since there were significant populations of that pest in Oregon and Utah last summer.

While treatment is only warranted when populations reach threshold levels, it’s important to monitor grass and forage crops closely and regularly throughout the season once grasshopper presence has been identified, since a few grasshoppers can quickly become many, and controlling nymphs is much easier than controlling adult hoppers.

Gerald Hobson

West Texas, southwestern Oklahoma and New Mexico

Last fall’s timely rains should translate to good spring grass growth in most areas, but have triggered germination of weeds, including broomweed, thistles and winter annuals.

These plants of opportunity will provide strong competition for desirable grasses if left unchecked. That’s a big concern in drought-plagued pastures that are already short on grass cover.

The best time to control those weeds is when they are small and before they steal much moisture and nutrients from young grasses.

Make time for early scouting and plant identification this spring, then work with a specialist to determine the best management strategies.

Common (annual) broomweed is one of our biggest threats. It can be controlled with a timely herbicide application in early spring.

For most effective control, use either a broadcast or spot-applied herbicide when young plants are actively growing and before they bolt or initiate upright growth.

Chris Bryan

Nebraska, Kansas and Colorado

Overall moisture levels are better this spring than a year ago, but it will take months and even years for some rangeland to recover from the drought. Weeds always bounce back first, so spring scouting is critical.

Topping the list of biggest weed threats in our region are invasive species, including leafy spurge, Russian knapweed, musk thistle, Canada thistle and sericea lespedeza.

Leafy spurge reproduces from seed and root buds and can reduce rangeland cattle-carrying capacity by 50 to 75 percent. Make spring herbicide applications for leafy spurge control when true flowers emerge.

While commonly controlled in fall, Russian knapweed can be sprayed in spring, between the bud and flowering growth stages. Thistle species can be treated between bolting and bud stages.

Spot treatment of sericea lespedeza is most effective during the vegetative stage, prior to branching or during flowering.

On rangeland areas severely affected by drought, manage stocking rates carefully and don’t overgraze. Desirable grasses need time to become re-established and build strong root systems.

Take the time to understand the types of grasses on your acres and schedule grazing to match, putting cattle on cool-season grasses in the spring and warm-season grasses later in the year.

You can’t always plan on rain, but using grazing management techniques and timely herbicide applications are two important tools for maximizing existing moisture and optimizing grass production.

robby Brattain

Montana and Wyoming

In this region, grass production this season will again be about maximizing moisture. While you can’t make it rain, you can reduce the weed competition to help moisture reach beneficial grasses.

Cheatgrass remains one of our biggest weed challenges. While control is usually best achieved with fall herbicide application, a spring treatment can be made if cheatgrass is not in an advanced growth stage.

Alyssum species, including yellow, desert and hoary alyssum, continue to be an increasing problem. Toxic to horses, these weeds can be very aggressive in hay and alfalfa fields. Early season control, prior to seed set in June, is essential.

Forbs and brush species such as buckbrush (snowberry) and wild rose took over some areas during recent drought conditions and crowded out grasses.

A spot application of a broad-spectrum residual herbicide can provide the control needed to allow grass seedlings to emerge and existing grasses to grow more vigorously.

We’ve also seen an increase in the presence of several poisonous species, including lupine, locoweed, larkspurs, broom snakeweed and houndstongue, in rangeland. Spring is a good time to scout for and control these weeds with spot herbicide treatments.

An effective weed management program is an investment that can pay grazing dividends for the next three to five years. Current cattle prices could help make that kind of investment pay out this year.

Matt McGowin

Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky

Spring weed management in hayfields and pastures can be very effective and relatively inexpensive if done in a timely manner.

Some of the biggest weed challenges in our region include winter-annual weeds such as henbit and buttercup, perennial weeds such as curly dock and biennial weeds including musk thistle and bull thistle.

Early weed identification is the first step in achieving effective control. Spring is a good time to look for new weed species that migrated into pastures on hay bales or vehicles, so scout feeding areas first.

The sooner spring weeds are controlled, the less impact they’ll have on grass production. If other spring work or weather conditions prevent timely herbicide applications, be sure to control weeds before seed set.

Species such as pigweed and buttercup produce thousands of seeds per plant and can quickly spread throughout pastures if left unchecked.

It isn’t necessary to wait until after the first cutting to manage annual ryegrass and little barley in bermudagrass. A spring application of a selective, broad-spectrum postemergence herbicide can ensure horse-quality hay from the first cutting.

And be sure to scout fence lines and field edges for encroaching weeds and brush, such as blackberry, dewberry and multiflora rose, which can be effectively controlled with a spot herbicide application.

Frank Jones

Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia

Regular rains throughout most of last season provided ample moisture for growth of both grasses and weeds this year. A lot of winter-annual weeds will be germinating this spring, and early weed management will be critical to getting grasses off to a good start.

To control the first flushes of weeds such as henbit, red sorrel, Carolina geranium and wild onion, consider applying a broad-spectrum residual herbicide just as weeds begin to grow actively.

The right herbicide can provide important early season control and significantly improve the quality of your first hay cutting.

Another important part of spring pasture management is maintaining soil fertility. Soil sampling and analysis every year or two, followed by appropriate action, helps manage nutrient levels and soil pH.

A pH level between 6 and 6.5 is essential to maximize fertilizer availability and plant uptake. The more often fields are fertilized, the faster soil pH can be affected. If pH levels become too acidic, fertilizer efficiency could be substantially reduced.

Jack LeClair

East Texas and Oklahoma

Soil testing should be one of your first management steps this spring, particularly if pastures were grazed or cut late last season.

If no potash was applied in the fall or winter, grass root systems may be weak, which could allow ryegrass and bromegrass to get the jump on more desirable grasses this spring.

With the return of moisture comes more weed pressure, so plan your weed management strategies now. Spring control will reduce competition for valuable moisture and nutrients, helping grasses get a productive start.

To effectively manage winter annuals, including broadleaf weeds and grasses that can delay growth by shading young bermudagrass, applying a selective, broad-spectrum postemergence herbicide before your first cutting will give you better hay quality throughout the season.

Choosing a product with minimal impact on beneficial grasses is important on bermudagrass acres. Glyphosate is often used to control ryegrass in spring pastures, but if the application is made too late, bermudagrass could be stunted, which opens a window for other weed invasions.

Consider using a residual herbicide to control later-germinating species such as sunflower, horse nettle and woolly croton, which we’re seeing more often in Texas. Consider which crops you might want to interseed in pastures later in the season when making your herbicide choices.

To effectively control undesirable brush species in spring, application timing is key. Wait until woody plants have broken dormancy, first-emerged leaves have turned dark green and soil temperatures are at least 75ºF 12 inches below the surface. At that point, a basal application (treating soil and trunk) made just after a rain will ensure the herbicide reaches the root system.

Once you’ve identified key weed species in your pastures and rangeland, schedule herbicide applications as soon as possible, since applicators are likely to be in high demand this spring.

Katie Conklin

North Dakota and South Dakota

Ample winter moisture should provide good growing conditions in most of the Dakotas this spring. Both forage and weeds will be actively growing in the weeks ahead, so scout pastures and grazing lands thoroughly to develop a weed and brush treatment plan.

Based on what I saw in pastures last fall, leafy spurge and Canada thistle could be prevalent this spring. Effective control of both depends on application timing. Treat leafy spurge at flowering, and treat Canada thistle between bolting and bud stages.

Brush species including buckbrush (snowberry) and eastern red cedar are also encroaching into areas that have been heavily grazed.

Applying a broad-spectrum, systemic herbicide in combination with 2,4-D and an oil adjuvant ensures maximum absorption into woody plants. The best application timing is when most leaves have emerged and fully expanded, typically mid-May to mid-June in our region.

To maximize grass production, consider taking soil samples as soon as conditions allow and making necessary spring fertilizer applications.

Give extra attention to areas with heavy brush pressure or that have been heavily grazed. Improving your rotational grazing program can benefit grass stands and overall productivity as well.  end mark