Killing Weeds, Protecting Forage
Saying that we were late getting to the fall pasture planting is a bit of an understatement. In one particular pasture, we weren’t just competing against time, we had a pretty significant weed load in the field as well. Before we planted, we had to spray – “burn down” – the thistle and dock – plants that cattle won’t eat, to make room for the wheat and triticale that we were going to plant.
This is all ideally done in September. Plants have to be actively growing, with sufficient canopy – leaf area – for the spray – a tank-mix of RoundUp and 2,4-D – to make good contact, and then to be transported through the plant, to get a good kill on the field. Any spray that hits the ground instead of the plants will immediately be broken down by soil microorganisms, and be gone before the new seed sprouts, in about seven days. And the elevated soil temperatures of early fall mean that we can burn down, plant and the new growth will have time to become established before winter arrives.
Since this is a pasture, and not a crop field, our objective and approach are a little different – we don’t want to kill everything, just the things that the cows won’t eat. To protect those plants, we let the cows graze the field just before we spray. That way the desirable plants don’t have enough leaf area for the spray to be effective.
Nice plan. I think we got started on it around Halloween. I was in melt-down mode. Scott was going to burn-down on Friday, and plant on Saturday. In my mind, we were going to be putting down some high-dollar spray that wouldn’t kill anything, then spend time we didn’t have, to put down seed that was going to rot in the ground. All to be followed up by no spring grazing.
So how did it end up? Well, the girls are eating triticale. And I’m eating crow.