Clipping pastures can go a long way toward managing weeds, and now is the time producers should have the mowers running.
When done at the proper time, mowing or clipping are effective ways to limit the spread of undesirable plants by preventing or reducing new seed production.
"The best thing is to clip them now, before weed seeds mature," said J.D. Green, weeds science specialist with the University of Kentucky (UK) Cooperative Extension Service.
Often, producers wait until it is too late in the summer to clip pastures to aid in weed control, he said. The task should be completed within the next few weeks.
Weeds compete with desirable forage species for light, water and nutrients, and can outgrow desirable forages. Undesirable weeds can reduce quality and palatability of forages. It is important to understand the plants life cycle in order to develop effective control strategies, Green said.
Herbicides are other tools that can be used to manage weeds, but in some cases can be costly. A fall herbicide application can be used successfully to control weeds such as tall ironweed, Canada thistle and musk thistle. However, fall applications are too late to be effective on annual weeds such as cocklebur and spiny pigweed. Green said overall management practices that promote vigorous forage growth are the best long-term means of dealing with weeds in pastures.
"The real dilemma with pasture weeds is that the producer doesnt notice them until they are mature or showy, and then the control options are limited," he said.
Increased emphasis on beef cattle production and forage production in Kentucky in recent years has increased awareness for weed control issues, Green said.
"Often, the most effective thing to do is clip or mow pastures in a timely manner," he said.
Editors Note: This article was written by Laura Skillman of the UK Cooperative Extension Service, which supplied this article.