Early Season Weed Control Important for Crops, Pastures and Lawns!

The winter of 2021 was much more challenging than 2020, with record snowfalls and cold temperatures, especially in February. Spring is officially here, temperatures are warming up and weeds are beginning to grow. If fields were not sprayed last fall for control of winter annuals or cover crops planted, the recent rains last earlier this month will provide ideal growing conditions for weeds. Keep an eye out for weeds beginning to grow in your crop fields. Weed control will be extremely important this spring, especially where there were previous issues with marestail or other winter annuals. Cover crops, especially cereal rye has been an excellent strategy for suppression of marestail. It is important to control marestail early this spring, prior to the plant bolting (shooting a stem). It will really be challenging controlling marestail if it bolts and is glyphosate-resistant, which the majority of it is. Check the 2021 University of Nebraska Weed Management Guide for best herbicides to use for control with your weed problems. In pastures, if you were not able to control weeds last fall, check your pastures for musk thistle. As temperatures warm up, musk thistles will begin to grow and you will be able to spray your pastures. The early season treatment of musk thistles in particular is critical for effective control. Musk thistle is a noxious weed in Nebraska, meaning it is unlawful to let it grow on your property without attempting to control it.   The best time for controlling musk thistle is when it is just starting to grow, in the rosette stage. Once thistles start to bolt or shoot up a stem or stalk, it is much more difficult to control them. There are several herbicides that work well on musk thistle and other pasture weeds, such as: 2,4–D ester, 2,4-D ester plus Banvel, Grazon P & D, Ally, Transline, Redeem R&P and Overdrive. Another weed we have had issues with the past few years in southeast Nebraska is poison hemlock. I just saw some poison hemlock growing in the rosette stage this past week. I have not seen too much of it yet, but it is key to controlling this weed as it can cause livestock deaths. Finally some of us may have weeds in our lawns or around our yards. Most of these are just getting started to grow or have not yet germinated. You have time to control these weeds now and in the next few weeks for the warm-season weeds. Information on broadleaf weed control in home lawns can be found online at: https://turf.unl.edu/NebGuides/BDLVcontrol2011b.pdf. Information on crabgrass control can be found online at: https://turf.unl.edu/NebGuides/Crabgrasscontrolhomelawn2010b.pdf. If you have other questions, feel free to contact me at the Nemaha County Extension office at (402) 274-4755, (402) 274-9639 (cell) or glesoing2@unl.edu.

Gary Lesoing
Extension Educator
Nemaha County
March 2021