Fall is a good time to take stock of the quality of horse pastures. The weeds that were most prevalent and uncontrolled during the summer will now be large and producing seeds. Horse pasture managers might not realize that troublesome weeds that grow and thrive during the spring and summer actually germinate and begin growth in September, October, and November. This means many herbaceous weeds that grow in horse pastures are most easily controlled with herbicides during the fall.

There are three groups of weeds that can be controlled in the fall with herbicides. Although these groups of weeds have different life cycles and periods of active growth and seed production, similar herbicides can be used for controlling all of them. These groups, with examples of weeds as they appear in September and October and as they appear in spring and summer (March-June), are:

1. Annual weeds that germinate in early fall

  • Common chickweed
  • Henbit
  • Purple deadnettle

2. Biennial weeds that germinate in the fall and have actively growing, year-old rosettes

  • Musk thistle
  • Poison hemlock

3. Perennial weeds, either new or established plants, that are actively growing in the fall

  • Dandelion
  • Buckhorn plantain
  • Broadleaf plantain

4. Long-lived perennial weeds that are best controlled in the fall

  • Canada thistle

The weeds that emerge in the fall or spring in your area might differ from the ones presented here, which are typical of Kentucky horse pastures. Consult your local county extension personnel for specific control of these weeds.

William W. Witt, PhD, a researcher in the Plant and Soil Sciences department at the University of Kentucky, provided this information.


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