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CATTLE TODAY

SOMETIMES THE GRASS IS WEEDIER ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FENCE

Overton -- Farmers and ranchers are seeing more weeds – both common and unusual varieties – this year, according to Dr. Vanessa Corriher, Texas AgriLife Extension Service forage specialist based at Overton.

Corriher said producers can expect to have more problems with weeds this year because high fertilizer costs limited their use in many pastures last year. Lower fertility means the improved forages such as Bermuda grass are less able to compete with weeds.

Corriher has been getting a lot of calls, e-mails and letters concerning weeds, but trying to accurately describe a weed over the phone is difficult if not impossible, she said. E-mailed pictures are a little better, but not much. And by the time a mailed weed arrives on her desk, it's usually so desiccated as to be useless for identification.

These problems delay the quick identification of a weed, and when it comes to weed-control, particularly with herbicides, timeliness is critical, she said.

“In most cases, the county agent will be able to identify the weed and (quickly) recommend control measures for all but the odd-ball weeds,” she said.

The most common methods of weed control are mowing or using herbicides, she said. Some other methods of weed control that are often not thought of or skipped include managing pastures for maximum production so as to compete against weeds, maintaining proper soil pH and fertility and managing grazing pressure to prevent over-grazing.

“Mechanical control of weeds is generally the least effective but the most costly weed management strategy, "Corriher said. “Mowing is often used for that instant gratification feeling and/or recreation.”

Corriher cautioned that when using herbicides, producers should follow label directions for application rate, timing of application, grazing restrictions, and cleanup and disposal.

And sometimes the perceived weed is not a weed at all from the point of view of livestock, she said.

“Many producers hate to see crab grass in their pastures or hay meadows,” she said. “But in terms of nutrition, it can be on par with coastal Bermuda grass.”

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