It is never too early to have pasture weed control on the to-do list for Denton County livestock and forage producers.
Spring will come soon enough and with the rains, pastures will turn green again, but the green may not be preferred grasses.
The record drought of 2011 and out-of-state hay being shipped in to feed livestock through the winter creates the perfect storm for an invasion of all types of weeds this year.
Surviving in the livestock business means having a continuous supply of quality forages available for livestock, either baled or grazed.
As winter ends and spring arrives with some much-needed rain, so will weeds in pastures across the county.
These invasive weeds have a direct affect on the yield and quality of needed forages.
Broadleaf weeds and weedy grasses compete with desirable forages for water and nutrients. They also create a canopy that blocks the sunlight needed to increase the soil temperature and allow grasses to break winter dormancy and get a good start in the spring.
Weed control management can result in increasing forage yields equivalent to the application of 50 to 75 pounds of nitrogen, and with high fertilizer prices, weed control makes good economic sense.
Applying needed plant nutrients is part of a complete pasture management system and is an excellent method of weed control in Bermuda grass pastures.
This practice will increase quantity and quality of the Bermuda grass and will allow it the opportunity to spread and become more aggressive while choking out the undesirable plant population.
A soil test should be conducted for accurate application rates and blends of needed fertilizer. Soil testing forms are available at http://soiltesting.tamu.edu.
Some producers will choose to control weeds by mowing. In most situations, this method has poor long-term results and has proven not to be economical with today's fuel prices.
Mowing usually causes the weeds to alter growth patterns, sprouting leaves closer to the soil, where they will be even harder to control.
If the decision is to mow, the recommendation is mow weeds in the bud or prebloom stage to reduce seed production and future plant population.
Most pasture broadleaf weeds can be easily controlled with products that contain a 2,4-D herbicide or mixtures, but require a pesticide license to purchase or apply, and label directions must be followed accordingly to state and federal laws.
To help producers meet this licensing requirement, a Private Applicator Licensing Training Course is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Feb. 10, followed by the test at 1 p.m. at the Texas AgriLife Extension Office in Denton. Cost for the Private Applicator Study Manual and the Laws and Regulations Handbook is $50.
Reservation deadline is Feb. 6. To reserve a spot, call 940-349-2880 or 972-434-8812, or e-mail email@example.com.
EDDIE BAGGS, extension agent with the Texas AgriLife Extension Service in Denton County, can be reached at 940-349-2880.