Winter Weed Control

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Bermuda grass is the most commonly grown grass in Robeson County and, by this time of year, has turned a light brown color. It is in a period of dormancy during the winter months and does not actively grow. However, as I travel through the county, I notice bright green winter weeds poking their head out to make their appearance. Weeds are any grass or broadleaf plant that grows in unwanted areas. They can cause unwanted competition for the desired forage, have a negative effect on animal performance, and some can be poisonous to livestock species.

Some of the most common winter weeds are Buttercup, Common Chickweed, Curly Dock, Henbit, Wild Garlic or Onion, White Clover, Wild Radish, Wild Mustard, and Common Dandelion. Proper weed identification is the first step in controlling winter weeds. It is important that we identify weeds early for several reasons:

1. Gain control of the weeds before the desired forage becomes thinned out.

2. Younger plants require less herbicide application; in turn saving money.

3. Some herbicides won’t kill the mature weed and the seed.

There are a number of herbicides that can be used to control winter weeds, but you should ALWAYS read the label and follow the directions, taking special notice for grazing and haying restrictions for livestock. Selecting the correct herbicide for the weed is important, because not all herbicides perform the same. An Agricultural Chemicals Manual is a useful tool in choosing the best herbicide.

The best time to apply herbicides to control winter weeds is October through December and February through April. October through December, winter weeds are usually young and actively growing. February through April, winter weeds are beginning their final growth spurt. It is important that the weeds aren’t allowed to seed. December through February is normally not the best time to control weeds, but treatment can be applied to dormant Bermuda. Hog waste should not be pumped on dormant Bermuda grass, because nitrogen will not be utilized and there is potential for runoff in ditches and streams. Hog waste can be applied to cover crops, such as cereal grains and winter grasses that are actively growing.

Remember, even though Bermuda grass is dormant and not actively growing, allowing winter weeds to accumulate will result in a poor stand of Bermuda grass. It is important that we remove winter weeds in a timely fashion to keep hayfields and pastures healthy.

I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

For more information, please contact Taylor Chavis, Extension Livestock Agent with North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center, at 671-3276, by E-mail at, or visit our website at North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T State University commit themselves to positive action to secure equal opportunity regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, religion, sex, age, veteran status, or disability. In addition, the two Universities welcome all persons without regard to sexual orientation.

Written By

Photo of Taylor ChavisTaylor ChavisExtension Agent, Agriculture - Livestock (910) 671-3276 taylor_chavis@ncsu.eduRobeson County, North Carolina
Posted on Dec 29, 2014
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