Farm Progress

Wet winter encourages weed infestations

Robert Burns

April 14, 2010

2 Min Read

The flooding may be over, but it seems like it's raining weeds down in Texas, according to reports from Texas AgriLife Extension Service personnel.

A combination of factors from a wet winter to lower fertility rates on improved pastures are behind the extra-heavy flush of weeds this year, they say.

In the eastern half of the state, spring was typified by large outbreaks of henbit, chickweed and Texas groundsel, all winter annuals, said Dr. Vanessa Corriher, AgriLife Extension forage specialist based at the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Overton.

As soil temperatures rise, Corriher said she expects to see more dove weed, blackberry or dewberry, thistles and nettle.

The wet winter and spring had an effect on weed growth, but a bigger cause of the flush of weeds is more likely the reduced fertilizer rates applied by producers, Corriher said. Higher fertilizer prices and the sluggish economy have forced producers to cut back on fertilizer, which is unfortunate, she said, for with lower fertility, improved pastures such as bermudagrass and coastal bermuda can't compete with weeds.

In the western part of the state it's a different story, said Jesse Schneider, AgriLife Extension agent in Presidio County, south of Fort Davis in Far West Texas. There the sections are so large, 50 to 200 hundred sections (a section is 640 acres) that applying fertilizer and herbicides is out of the question.

"We've had such a wet winter. In the last few years, we're weedier than we've been in the past," Schneider said. "We have a lot of locoweed, a lot of vetch and a lot of peavine."

Schneider said in her area it's because the winter was wet, which brought on the early cool-season weeds. Then it turned dry which prevented native grasses from growing and competing with the weeds. Lately, she said, the issues on rangeland have been toxic weeds such as locoweed and perennial broomweed.

Everything that grazes, goats and cattle, are hunting for anything green, she said.

"As soon as that green came out on the broomweed, of course they went right to it, and we've had some stillbirths in boer goats (as a result)," she said.

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