Those pesky brown broomsedge stems — the things that crop up in abandoned and ill-managed pastures — can cause years of strife for any farmer. But there are many preventative measures that growers can take.
“Broomsedge is a native warm-season perennial grass that occupies the niches left by diminished forage species,” said Dirk Philipp, assistant professor of forages for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences.
“Most often broomsedge appears in mountainous areas and formerly forested fields, but pastures that have undergone the stress of drought or overgrazing also make for an ideal environment,” he said.
Allelopathic chemicals in broomsedge prevent other plants from germinating around them, making this an extremely competitive plant.
Because broomsedge can be difficult to control once established, prevention is key. Preventative options include:
• Keep pH and phosphorus levels in check. This means farmers should monitor soil fertility every year or two. The pH levels take some time to correct, so plan accordingly.
• Maintain appropriate pasture management. Keeping pastures clear of common weeds goes a long way to avoid major weed intrusion. Proper grazing methods should enable the farmer to increase or decrease grazing pressure in certain areas, and to help avoid overgrazing.
• Long-term management plans should be in place as well. Pasture species composition is dynamic, and forages likely have to be over-seeded after a few years in certain areas. Landscape position is a driver for available water, and thus plant composition.
Once broomsedge appears in pastures, it will be there for a while. Control options include:
• Correcting any nutrient deficiencies in respective pastures. This will increase the vigor of the base forage.
• Grazing pastures properly. Cattle will eat broomsedge for a short period of time in spring.
• Patience. It may take several years before broomsedge will disappear.
There are no good herbicide options, other than glyphosate, which will also kill or damage the surrounding forage.