Tag Archive: Pasture

Controlling Prickly Pear after Pasture Establishment

Controlling Prickly Pear after Pasture Establishment

Photo 1. Prickly Pear after cultivation and pasture establishment in Gadsden County. Credit: Shep Eubanks UF/IFAS

Prickly Pear is one of those tenacious, tough to handle weeds that you hate to find growing in your pastures and hay fields.  It can be very difficult to control and eradicate.  This weed typically spreads and reproduces via fragmentation of original plants, such as occurs in the cultivation and planting of new pastures.  Each individual piece can root and produce a new colony of plants.  Mowing is not a good option for controlling this weed, as it actually encourages rapid increase of the plant population.  The barbed quills are a hazard to grazing livestock and can be a source of infections in addition to decreasing animal utilization of the forage, as livestock will avoid infested areas.

Photo 2. Hand removal of prickly pear in small fields Credit: Shep Eubanks UF/IFAS

Hand removal (Photo 2) is one possible option in small fields, but is very labor intensive and costly.  This operation also can cause increased fragmentation increasing populations of the weed.  Repeated trips across the field will be required but may be the only practical option if the crop is a legume such as perennial peanut.

In grass pastures we do have some options for chemical control.  Dr. Jay Ferrell and Dr. Brent Sellers, UF/IFAS weed specialists, recommend the following plans of attack.

Spot Applications

For spot spray situations, Vista XRT can be applied in water at 0.5 oz. per 1 gal, while TrumpCard can be applied at 2 oz per 1 gal of water. Spray the pads to achieve good coverage but not to the point of runoff. Over-application can result in grass damage, but will not likely be as severe as with the traditional triclopyr and diesel program.

Broadcast Applications

Recent experiments conducted at UF/IFAS have found that broadcast applications of Vista XRT herbicide at a rate of 22 oz/A, applied in either spring or fall, can effectively control prickly pear. Additionally, a split application of Vista XRT at 11 oz/A in the spring followed by another 11 oz/A in the fall was also effective. Likewise, TrumpCard can be applied at 48 oz/A followed by an additional 48oz the following season. Failure to make two applications of TrumpCard with a total of 96 oz over two growing seasons will likely result in marginal control.

Photo 3. Prickly Pear After Herbicide Application. Credit:  Jay Ferrell UF/IFAS

It is important to note that even though Vista XRT and TrumpCard are effective on prickly pear, control is generally very slow. After the application, the quills will turn gray and dry out while the pads will swell and turn a green/gray color (Photo 3). It is common for treated plants to persist this way for 6–8 months after the application. But don’t get discouraged when the plants do not disappear quickly.  This does not mean the herbicide is not working.  Prickly pear grows fairly slowly so it takes longer for the herbicides to take full affect.

For newly established pastures, the Trump Card product label recommends allowing establishment prior to herbicide application.  It is generally recommended that bahiagrass should not be treated with herbicides until the seedlings are at least 6″ tall after planting.  Both herbicides have a seven day grazing restriction following application.

Trump Card Label: 

Do not apply to newly seeded areas until grass is well established. Reseeding is not recommended for at least 30 days following application. Addition of a surfactant may increase the risk of injury to newly seeded grasses.

For more information, use the following UF/IFAS Extension fact sheet link: 

Prickly Pear Cactus Control in Pastures




Author: Shep Eubanks – bigbuck@ufl.edu

Shep Eubanks is the County Extension Director and Agriculture Agent in Gadsden County.

Shep Eubanks

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/09/08/controlling-prickly-pear-after-pasture-establishment/

UGA Pasture Insect Alert

UGA Pasture Insect Alert

Bermudagrass Stem Maggot

While doing plot work at the Sunbelt Ag Expo late this week, Dr. Lisa Baxter (a post-doc in our program hired to assist with our stem maggot research) and I observed bermudagrass stem maggot pressure in our bermudagrass stands there. Alicia, Coastal, Russell, Tifton 44, and common bermudagrass had all suffered more than 20% stem damage, though the stand was ready to cut and yield loss would probably be < 5%. The damage in Tifton 85 and Coastcross-II was barely noticeable. Meanwhile, damage in our research plots at Tifton was still very slight. Spotty damage has been reported across South GA, but the levels are high enough that producers below the Fall Line should strongly consider implementing the suppression technique. For more details, read:

BERMUDAGRASS STEM MAGGOT RESEARCH UPDATE.  A new Extension Bulletin that will provide more depth to this subject should be out later this summer.

Sugarcane Aphid

Dr. David Buntin, Extension Entomologist in Griffin, reported to me yesterday that he found sugarcane aphids (SCA) on grain sorghum sentinel plots planted in early May in Pike Co. Populations ranged from several to several hundred per leaf. Populations greater than 50 aphids per leaf are considered high enough to warrant an insecticide application. For more information about SCA management, view Dr. Buntin’s factsheet: MANAGEMENT OF SUGARCANE APHID ON GEORGIA SORGHUM IN 2017



Author: admin – webmaster@ifas.ufl.edu


Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/07/04/uga-pasture-insect-alert/

BMP Pasture Walk October 21

BMP Pasture Walk October 21

perennial grass roots grow deep into the soil profile and actually build healthier soils for crop rotation. Photo credit; Doug Mayo

The North Florida Research and Education Center faculty will share the results of BMP Research trials at Conrad Farms and at the Beef Research Unit . Photo credit; Doug Mayo

Make plans to attend an on-farm and research center pasture walk, Friday October 21st from 9:00 am until 12:30 pm Central Time. The tour group will meet at the Beef Research Unit Pavilion north of Marianna and west of Greenwood on Highway 162 (4925 Highway 162, Greenwood, FL).

This half-day, Best Management Practices (BMP) on-farm research tour will feature hay fertilization with coated urea products and biosolids, as well as visiting an alfalfa field to assess the compatibility of bahiagrass and bermudagrass with alfalfa and perennial peanut! We will also discuss forage system economics with Chris Prevatt Regional Livestock Economist. Upon our return to the NFREC, we will continue with visits to mixed grass/legume systems and check out the early plantings of cool-season small grains, including black oats. We will also be identifying any disease and pest issues, along the way. Drs. Jose Dubeux (forage management), Ann Blount (forage breeding), and Cheryl Mackowiak (forage fertility) will be there to answer your questions. Doug Mayo (Jackson County, CED) will introduce our cooperators and provide a brief background on some of the water quality issues that may impact farming and ranching practices in the area.

We hope this event kicks off a regular Panhandle Pasture Walk series spear-headed by Dr. Dubeux. Your participation and feedback will be greatly appreciated and will help us in developing a community of shared interests in forage systems in our region.

After the official event, we plan to re-group at a local eating establishment for a Dutch-Treat lunch to continue discussions. Extension Agents, and livestock producers who would enjoy discussing a mix of research and real-world forage production challenges are invited to attend. To help with logistics, we would greatly appreciate an RSVP by close-of-business, Wednesday, October 19th to Doris Williams at the Jackson County Extension Office 850-482-9620. There is no charge and snacks & water will be provided on the tour.



Author: Cheryl Mackowiak – echo13@ufl.edu


Cheryl Mackowiak

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/10/15/bmp-pasture-walk-october-21/

Principles of Pasture Productivity Workshop Series June 9 or 14

Principles of Pasture Productivity Workshop Series June 9 or 14

Beef Cattle Winter Feeding Considerations will address how to make the most of many winter feeding systems, including cool season forages like the cows above are enjoying. Photo Credit: Mark Mauldin

Photo Credit: Mark Mauldin

Making the grass grow is not as simple or easy as many of us would like it to be. Even so, it is essential to successful livestock operations. Anyone who has grazing livestock needs to understand the fundamental principles of forage production. Whether you are providing forage for one horse or 1,000 cows the fundamental principles are the same. In an effort to help livestock producers gain a better understanding of these principles UF/IFAS Extension is presenting a four part series entitled Principles of Pasture Productivity. This series will examine some of the key principles of pasture management including;

  • Session 1 – Pasture Fertility

Focus – Soil testing, Fertilizer Selection & Application, Balancing Forage Quality, Quantity & Nutrient Demands

  • Session 2 – Grazing Management

Focus – Causes of Pasture Decline, Rotational Grazing Systems, Integration of Multiple Forage Species

  • Session 3 – Weed Control

FocusIntegrated Pest Management System, Basics of Pasture Herbicides, Efficient Herbicide Application

  • Session 4 – Forage Establishment & Variety Selection

Focus – Timing and techniques for establishing annual and perennial forages, Characteristics and site selection forage varieties

These topics will be presented in a practical, “how-to” style with consideration given to the varying sizes and management goals of local livestock operations.

Principles of Pasture Productivity will be held in two locations; The Washington County Agricultural Center in Chipley and the Calhoun County Public Library in Blountstown. Each session will begin at 6:30pm central time. Registration for the series includes any/all of the sessions at both locations. There is a $ 25 registration fee for the entire series or $ 10 per session. Light refreshments and printed program materials will be provided.

To register online use the following link:  

Register Online with Eventbrite

Or contact the location of choice for this series:

Washington County Extension Office 850-638-6180

Calhoun County Extension Office 850-674-8323

Chipley Dates

  • Session 1 – Tuesday, June 14th
  • Session 2 – Tuesday, July 12th
  • Session 3 – Tuesday, August 9th
  • Session 4 – Tuesday, September 13th

Washington County Agricultural Center, 1424 Jackson Ave. Chipley FL

Blountstown Dates

  • Session 1 – Thursday, June 9th
  • Session 2 – Thursday, July 21st
  • Session 3 – Thursday, August 25th
  • Session 4 – Thursday, September 15th

Calhoun County Public Library, 17731 N Pear St. Blountstown, FL


To view and print the program flyers select the link with the location of choice:   



Author: Mark Mauldin – mdm83@ufl.edu

I am the Agriculture and Natural Resources agent in Washington County. My program areas include livestock and forage, row crops, and pond management.

Mark Mauldin

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/05/07/principles-of-pasture-productivity-workshop-series-june-9-or-14/

The Cheapest Method to Control Pasture Weeds

The Cheapest Method to Control Pasture Weeds

Doug Mayo, Jackson County Extension Director & Dr. Jay Ferrell, UF/IFAS Extension Weed Specialist

From time to time people ask, “What is the cheapest way to control weeds in pastures?”  A healthy, vigorous pasture grass will choke out most weeds that try to get established.  Even so, the very best pasture managers have to deal with weeds of some sort because Florida’s climate provides an ideal habitat for weed establishment and growth.  Typically weeds develop a stronghold in weak areas of pastures such as feeding zones, around water troughs, high traffic areas, and loafing areas around shade.  Once weeds begin to establish, even in small areas, they start spreading and building a seed bank waiting for an opportunity to compete with forage grasses. There is a low cost method that can be used to control weeds early on before they spread called “spot treatment.”

Spot treatment of weeds can be as simple as using a broadcast sprayer that is turned on and off to only spray the parts of pastures with weed issues and not over clean areas.  More commonly though, this phrase is used to refer to individual plant treatment.  Depending on the weeds to be controlled and their stage of maturity, costs for a total pasture broadcast herbicide treatment can range from $ 5-24 per acre for the chemical alone.  However, if you jump on a problem area early, individual plants can be controlled and the cost of herbicide will be significantly reduced because you only apply the chemical on the targeted weeds.

In general, spot treatment will require considerably more labor than a broadcast treatment.  There is a trade-off, as a manager you have decide which resources are more precious, your time or your money.  It really depends on the level of infestation as to which method is most efficient.  If you jump on a weed problem early enough, spot treatment will be less expensive and not too overwhelming. Seldom does a single broadcast treatment remove weeds completely, so spot treatment can be be used as a follow up treatment to prevent infestations from reoccurring.

There are some key things to know before you get started with spot treatment.  Just as with broadcast treatments, the first step is to identify the most problematic weeds to be controlled.  Weed identification can be challenging, especially since people use different common names for the same weeds:  spiny pigweed or careless weed, sida or teaweed or ironweed.  Weed identification is something your County Extension Agent can assist with.  Nobody can remember the names of all of the weeds in Florida, but the University of Florida has a network of specialists and a herbarium that can assist with positive plant identification.  Once you know the specific weeds to be controlled, effective herbicides can be selected.  Dr. Jay Ferrell and Dr. Brent Sellers have an annually updated weed control guide for pastures with a herbicide ratings chart for the more common weeds: Weed Management in Pastures and Rangeland.  This is a great resource for herbicide selection, once you know which weeds you are targeting.

Most herbicide labels have very clear explanations for their use as broadcast treatments.  Typically they even provide lists of common weeds and a recommended rate to apply per acre.  Spot treatment recommendations on specific product labels vary considerably.  If you are not treating acres at a time, the simplest method to use is a spray solution on a percentage basis. The mixing chart below provides a basic summary of how much herbicide and surfactant should be added per volume of water.  There is a more complete chart available in:  Chemical Weed and Brush Control on Rangeland, but you will have to convert to get the CC’s for the correct amounts.

One technique that can be very helpful is instead of working with fractions of ounces, tablespoons, or teaspoons is to convert the recommended herbicide concentrate into cubic centimeters (CC).  This is especially true for mixing small quantities of spray solution, because you can use plastic disposable syringes to get the precise amount of herbicide concentrate needed.

There are a number of options for the type of equipment to use for single plant or spot treatment.  Certainly, one to two gallon pump-up sprayers are the cheapest options.  The constant need to stop and pump, the limited capacity, and carrying the free swinging weight, however, gets old fast.  A better option is a backpack sprayer, because they are much easier to carry and can be pumped as you walk to keep the pressure fairly stable.  Three gallon backpack sprayers are ideal for most people, but larger units are available.  Just remember that a five gallon sprayer completely filled will weigh more than 50 pounds and will be heavy and awkward to carry around pastures.  Padded straps are also very important feature for these types of sprayers.  A more convenient option is a 10-25 gallon electric sprayer that can be connected to the electrical system of a pickup truck, tractor, 4-wheeler, golf cart, or off-road utility vehicle.  If you already own an agricultural sprayer for your tractor, the cheapest option may be to simply purchase a sprayer wand attachment made for your specific unit.

Whichever type of equipment you choose, beware of bargain sprayers.  The plastic spray wands break and the seals on the tanks go bad over time.  Instead, choose brands that offer replacement parts.  Sprayer wands made of brass or metal cost more, but will hold up longer with regular use.  Mail-order supply companies like Gempler’s carry a wide range of sprayers for spot treatment, and even carry the replacement parts if you don’t have a sprayer equipment dealer nearby.  Like other farm equipment, you generally get what you pay for.

Once you have your equipment there are a few other things to keep in mind.  Spray individual plants until they are wet and stop.  Hosing plants down can actually reduce weed control.  At high rates the active ingredients can burn the leaves to the point that it actually reduces herbicide uptake.  The goal is to evenly cover the leaves with a light, fine spray or mist and move on.  If you are spraying large brush or small trees, make sure you spray the entire canopy of the plant.  Otherwise you may on only defoliate part of the plant and not get a complete kill.

Surfactants are just as important for spot treatment as with broadcast spraying.  Dishwashing detergent, diesel fuel, alcohol or some other cocktail will not work like a commercial surfactant.  Surfactants are made specifically to mix well with herbicides in the tank and help spray droplets dry in place on the leaf of the weeds. If the chemical rolls off the leaves onto the ground before it dries, it won’t be effective.  Read the herbicide label and follow the instructions provided for that particular product.  Most pasture herbicides recommend a 0.25% solution of a non-ionic surfactant.  (See mixing chart above)

Individual plant treatments are challenging, because weeds tend to be scattered and clumped in pastures.  It is not efficient to walk or drive in straight lines, so you jump from plant to plant or clump to clump.  Adding a blue or purple dye to your spray mix can really help to know where you have already sprayed.  Even with the dye you are going to miss some plants, so be prepared for a follow up treatment a few weeks later to hit the weeds you missed.  Don’t judge the results of your treatment too quickly.  It is pretty likely that there will be surviving plants that were either completely missed or inadequately sprayed on the first attempt.

Another common mistake is mixing too much spray solution.  Start off conservatively until you figure out how long it takes to spray three, five, or ten gallons, before mixing up a full tank. Most herbicides degrade over time in water.  Start with a clean tank, spray out the mix completely, and clean the tank out again before storage. The sprayer seals and pumps will last a lot longer if they are stored clean and dry.  Develop a routine to only mix what you need, and then clean out the tank when you are done.

Just as with any type of chemical application, you need to follow the safety instructions on the product label.  With a spray wand you are much more likely to be exposed to spray drift.  Most herbicide labels call for a minimum of long pants, long sleeves, and chemical resistant gloves.  Hats and eye protection are always a good idea as well. Take steps to reduce exposure, and then wash up and put on clean clothes as soon after application as possible.

Like most every other operation on a farm or ranch, spot treatments take some practice to develop the system that fits your schedule and equipment.  Investing in the right equipment will make this job easier.  The ultimate goal of using the spot treatment approach is to prevent major weed infestations before they rob water and nutrients from forages in your pastures, and of course do it with as low a cost as possible.



Author: Doug Mayo – demayo@ufl.edu

Lead Editor for Panhandle Ag e-news – Jackson County Extension Director – Livestock & Forages Agent. My true expertise is with beef cattle and pasture management, but I can assist with information on other livestock species, as well as recreational fish ponds.

Doug Mayo

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/04/23/the-cheapest-method-to-control-pasture-weeds/

Pasture Weed Control Tips for Thistles

Thistle in Gadsden County hayfield. Photo courtesy of Shep Eubanks UF/IFAS

Thistle in a Gadsden County hayfield. Photo courtesy of Shep Eubanks UF/IFAS

Timing is critical for controlling weeds that infest and invade our pastures.  Thistles are an example of a weed in which proper timing of herbicide application can mean the difference between excellent and very poor control of the weed problem.  Thistles are biennial, so in year one they come up from seed and form a small rosette, and in year two, they bolt and flower.  The thistles in the photo above are still in the rosette stage of development; at this stage they are very easy to control with inexpensive herbicides.  A timely application of one of several herbicides in year one, or even early in year two at the beginning of the bolting stage will provide economical control of this weed.  However, if you delay treatment until the plant is flowering, control is reduced and more expensive.  Often it is the ugly flowers that draw attention to the seriousness of the weed infestation, but scouting for this weed in late winter and early spring can make a huge difference as illustrated in the table below.

Source: Thistle Control in Pastures

Source:  J. Ferrell & B. Sellers Thistle Control in Pastures

It is important to understand that a weed like thistle is very prolific.  A single thistle plant can produce 4,000+ seeds.  You can rapidly go from a situation where you only have a few plants to a very high populations in one or two years.  The good news is that the herbicides available to control thistle will also control many of the winter annual weeds that are out there right now in Panhandle pastures and hayfields.  Control measures include 2,4-D,  Weedmaster (2,4-D+dicamba) or their generic alternatives, GrazonNext, Pasturegard, Remedy Ultra, or metsulfuron.

One thing to remember is that these herbicides will injure clovers.  Some, such as Grazonnext and metsulfuron, have residual activity that may affect clovers that are over-seeded later.  Check the label for more information or consult with your local UF/IFAS Extension Agent.

For more information on pasture weed control check out these publications:

Thistle Control in Pastures

Weed management in Pastures and Rangelands – 2016

Other Extension Pasture Weed Fact-sheets



Author: Shep Eubanks – bigbuck@ufl.edu

Shep Eubanks is the County Extension Director and Agriculture Agent in Holmes County.

Shep Eubanks

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/03/18/pasture-weed-control-tips-for-thistles/

What Happened to Your Pasture?

What Happened to Your Pasture?

A bahiagrass pasture in Washington County that has experienced significant stand loss. Before any efforts to salvage or replant this pasture can be successful the factors leading to the decline must be identified and addressed. Photo credit: Mark Mauldin

A bahiagrass pasture in Washington County that has experienced significant stand loss. Before any efforts to salvage or replant this pasture can be successful, the factors leading to the decline must be identified and addressed. Photo credit: Mark Mauldin

As an agent I find it somewhat disconcerting when, this time of year, I begin getting questions about replanting perennial grass pastures (bahiagrass, bermudagrass, etc.). By definition, a perennial pasture should last for many years; making replanting a rare exception, not a regular occurrence.

If you find yourself looking at a replanting situation, I would recommend that before you delve into the details of replanting, you take some time to address a question that, in the long run, could have more economic impact than any detail relating to replanting: What happened to your pasture? If you don’t identify and address the cause(s) of the initial stand loss, it is highly likely that replanting will become a common occurrence on your operation – and that is never a good thing.

A few basic principles to help you begin to figure out what happened to your pasture;

  • Pasture grasses, like all plants, acquire energy through the process of photosynthesis. This process requires sunlight and takes place in the green tissues of the plant, primarily in the leaves. More leaf area = more photosynthesis = more energy.
  • Close, or tight grazing removes the leaves of the grass, thereby severely limiting the plants ability to carry out photosynthesis. No leaves = no photosynthesis = plant must consume energy reserves.
  • During the growing season, plants will allocate energy for the production of leaves, at the expense of root growth, to ensure that adequate leaf area is present to enable sufficient photosynthesis.
Continuous removal of leaf tissue will have a detrimental effect on the root system of pasture grass. Photo credit: http://onpasture.com/2013/04/30/collect-more-sunshine-to-grow-more-grass/

Continuous removal of leaf tissue will have a detrimental effect on the root system of pasture grass.
Photo credit: http://onpasture.com/2013/04/30/collect-more-sunshine-to-grow-more-grass/

“A photo from a Canadian research station showing the root growth of bunchgrass plants that were kept clipped at certain levels.” Photo and caption from: http://managingwholes.com/new-topsoil.htm

“A photo from a Canadian research station showing the root growth of bunchgrass plants that were kept clipped at certain levels.”
Photo and caption from: http://managingwholes.com/new-topsoil.htm

When pastures are closely grazed for extended periods their root systems begin to decline. This lack of roots makes the plants more susceptible to drought stress and lessens their ability to take up essential nutrients from the soil, making the overall situation worse. Enter a pest or disease at this point and you can see your pasture rapidly descend to a dirt lot.

For the most part, pest and diseases are not major concerns in healthy grazed pastures. This is not because they are not present, but because the rapid growth of otherwise healthy pasture grasses covers any damage that occurs.  When pastures are weakened from overgrazing the very same pest or disease can become devastating. Limited roots caused by overgrazing are further damaged by the pest, energy reserves needed for regrowth are already depleted, and plants succumb.

Ground pearls found in a Washington County pasture. Pest like these can be overcome by a healthy pasture but when weakened by over grazing and inadequate soil fertility they can cause serious problems. Photo credit: Mark Mauldin

Ground pearls found in a Washington County pasture. Pest like these can be overcome by a healthy pasture, but when weakened by over grazing and inadequate soil fertility they can cause serious problems.  Photo credit: Mark Mauldin

Even without a pest or disease accelerating the situation, continuous overgrazing will weaken and eventually kill the plants over time. This happens slowly and often times the desirable species will be replaced by an undesirable species like centipede, which has a growth habit that is much more tolerant of close grazing.

Overgrazing is not the only thing that can weaken a pasture. A lack of available nutrients can greatly inhibit the grass’s ability to grow roots and recover from grazing. Nutrients are constantly being removed from pastures. Nutrients that are taken up by plants are removed by grazing animals (granted some are redeposited as urine and feces but the distribution of these nutrients is generally very poor). Nutrients that are not captured by the plants will move down through the soil and eventually wind up below the root zone. This is especially true of Nitrogen and Potassium, two of the nutrients plants need in the largest amounts.

The extent of the over grazing required to damage a pasture is lessened when a nutrient deficiency is added to the situation. It is important to note that a pasture only needs to be deficient in one nutrient for problems to arise. In other words, simply applying a Nitrogen product will generally not provide all of the nutrients the pasture requires to be healthy.

We have identified some of the common factors that lead to stand decline or failure; overgrazing and failure to maintain adequate soil fertility. After recognizing these factors, the basic steps needed to ensure a long productive life for a pasture are fairly straight forward; practice sound grazing management and supply adequate nutrients.

There are lots of specific grazing strategies that can be very effective. They all are built on two key principles; 1) Do not remove so much leaf area that photosynthesis is severely impaired. A good rule of thumb here is to “take half and leave half.” 2) Allow the plants some “rest time” so they can build up adequate energy reserves. By providing the plants multiple days with no grazing pressure you enable them to recover and grow stronger again, so they are better able to deal with adverse conditions they may encounter.

There is an excellent system in place to help producers know exactly what they need to do in terms of supplying nutrients. Collect soil samples, send them to the Extension Soils Testing Lab, and follow the fertilizer recommendations the lab provides. Your county’s Agriculture Extension Agent will be happy to assist you in this process or to provide you with additional information about any of the topics addressed in this article.

If you take care of your pasture, by utilizing a sound grazing management strategy and supplying adequate nutrients, your pasture will take care of your livestock for a long time. If not, you will get lots of practice replanting pastures and fighting weeds.



Author: Mark Mauldin – mdm83@ufl.edu

I am the Agriculture and Natural Resources agent in Washington County. My program areas include livestock and forage, row crops, and pond management.

Mark Mauldin

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/03/04/what-happened-to-your-pasture/

El Niño may Boost Cool-Season Pasture Weeds

El Niño may Boost Cool-Season Pasture Weeds

Ferrell thistle

Thistle and other cool-season weeds could be more numerous in 2016 due to the El Nino, so producers should scout early and spray while weeds are still small.

The summer of 2015 will long be remembered for the consistency and amount of rainfall received. This was a great benefit for the crop farmer, but made life exceedingly difficult for the hay farmer. With all this rain I saw many pastures that were “soggy” all summer. Bahiagrass is a durable and highly persistent grass that can tolerate periodic flooding. But this past summer provided weeks to months of water standing on the pasture, or just below the surface. In this environment, roots begin to die off and the overall vigor of the pasture declines. This will allow open spots to form in the grass and create an ideal environment for weed encroachment.

The weeds I most expect to see are the common winter/spring weeds: thistles, red sorrel, and wild radish/mustard. Though we see these every year, I anticipate that they will be more numerous in 2016. Therefore, I suggest that you scout early and often, and be ready to spray. Generally speaking, spraying small weeds will translate into better control at a lower cost than waiting until the weeds are large, so be ready. There is no reason to bale weedy “cow hay” for the first cutting, when a herbicide application in March could control those weeds. As long as daytime temperatures are 60-65 F (or higher), the herbicides will work fine. At these cooler temperatures, switching to a 2,4-D ester instead of an amine will also provide a positive herbicide benefit.

Ferrell wild radish

Spraying small weeds will translate into better control, at a lower cost than waiting until the weeds are large. This wild radish (aka wild mustard) is easy to control at this size, but very challenging once it starts flowering.

A proactive weed management strategy will allow the pasture to transition from winter dormancy without weed competition. This will provide a good environment for the grass to reestablish itself and improve the first hay cutting.

For specifics on which herbicides fit your particular weed problems, please consult:  Weed Management in Pasture and Rangeland



Author: jferrell – jferrell@ufl.edu


Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/11/20/el-nino-may-boost-cool-season-pasture-weeds/

Tropical Soda Apple – Not Just a Pasture Weed

Tropical Soda Apple in mature Pine Stand Photo Credit: Shep Eubanks

Tropical Soda Apple in Mature Pine Stand in Gadsden County
Photo Credit: Shep Eubanks

Every fall, about the time deer hunters begin hanging their tree stands for bow season I get calls wanting to know what this wicked weed is that is growing in the woods.  Many of our North Florida cattlemen are well familiar with Tropical Soda Apple (TSA) in pastures, but we also need to be diligent to scout natural areas adjacent to our pastures and hay fields.  Tropical soda apple is quite capable of growing in pine stands and semi-shaded areas where you don’t normally expect to encounter it, such as in the stand of 20 year old pines pictured above.  Deer, raccoons, and other wildlife will eat the fruit and spread it in their travels about the woodlands, as will cattle if they have access to loaf in these areas.

This invasive weed produces a yellow fruit (see photo 1) when mature (1–1.5 inches in diameter), which contains 200–400 seeds per fruit. Little or no seed dormancy has been observed, and germination is generally greater than 75%. The plant is readily identified by its immature fruit, which are green with white mottling, similar to watermelon (see photo 2). Fruit production occurs throughout the year, but mostly from September through May, providing 40,000–50,000 viable seeds per plant per year.

Photo 1. Mature Tropical Soda Apple Fruit (yellow) Photo Credit: Shep Eubanks

Photo 1. Mature Tropical Soda Apple Fruit (yellow) Photo Credit: Shep Eubanks

Photo 1. Tropical soda Apple Immature Fruit Photo Credit: Shep Eubanks

Photo 2. Tropical soda Apple Immature Fruit (green striped) Photo Credit: Shep Eubanks

For control of Tropical Soda apple in areas like this woodlot, the following recommendation on Controlling Tropical Soda Apple by Dr. Brent Sellers, et al. is applicable.

Sparse infestations. Areas with low TSA infestation should be targeted, and each plant sprayed individually. Recommended herbicides for 95%–100% control are as follows:

  1. Milestone at 0.5–0.8 oz per 2.5 gal (15–20 ml per 2.5 gal) + 0.25% v/v non-ionic surfactant + color marker. (Use a color marker with the herbicide solution to avoid spraying the same plant twice or not spraying a plant at all).
  2. GrazonNext HL or triclopyr at 0.5% solution (50 ml per 2.5 gal) + 0.25% non-ionic surfactant + color marker.

When spot-spraying, cover the entire plant with spray solution to ensure herbicide uptake and maximum control. Allow herbicides to dry on plants three to four hours before rainfall. Monitor treated areas monthly, and treat new TSA seedlings. Do not allow plants to produce fruit. Be sure to follow the guidelines for spraying volatile herbicides such as triclopyr and 2,4-D. (For more information, see EDIS publication SS-AGR-12, Florida’s Organo-Auxin Herbicide Rule – 2012, http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/wg051.)

For more information on controlling Tropical Soda Apple Contact your local Extension Agent or these excellent publications:

Tropical soda Apple: Biology, ecology, and management

Classical Biological Control of Tropical Soda Apple

Natural Area Weeds: Invasive Solanum spp. in Florida



Author: Shep Eubanks – bigbuck@ufl.edu

Shep Eubanks is the County Extension Director and Agriculture Agent in Holmes County.

Shep Eubanks

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/10/16/tropical-soda-apple-not-just-a-pasture-weed/

Integrating Perennial Peanut into Bahia Pasture Field Day October 9

Research trails currently being conducted at the NFREC Marianna will evaluating methods for integrating perennial peanut into bahiagrass pastures for improved cattle performance. Photo credit: Jose Dubeux

Research trials currently being conducted at the NFREC Marianna are evaluating methods for integrating perennial peanut into bahiagrass pastures for improved cattle and pasture performance. Photo credit: Jose Dubeux

The University of Florida has conducted several research and on-farm trials to evaluate the potential integration of perennial peanut into bahiagrass pastures.  One of their on-farm trials was conducted at Cherokee Ranch, south of Marianna, Florida. Additional research trials are also being conducted at the North Florida Research and Education Center’s (NFREC) Beef Research Unit.  Adding perennial peanut to grass pastures has two main goals: to improve the performance of grazing animals through improved forage quality, and also to add nitrogen to the forage system to boost forage yields or reduce nitrogen fertilization.

On Friday, October 9th a Field Day will be held to allow participants to tour the trial sites. The Field Day will begin at Cherokee Ranch and conclude at the North Florida Research and Education Center Beef Unit, near Greenwood.  Lunch will be provided for participants in this event.  A $ 10 registration fee will be required for each participant, payable at registration the day of the event. Please RSVP by Monday, October 5th by email to Doris Williams or by phone: 850-482-9620.

Integrating Perennial Peanut into Bahiagrass Pastures Field Day

Friday, October 9, 2015

Cherokee Ranch, 1525 Fairview Road, Marianna, FL
UF/IFAS NFREC Marianna, 4925 Highway 162 North, Marianna, FL

Per Peanut in Bahia Agenda

Download the printer friendly flyer for this event:  Perennial Peanut/Bahia Pasture Field Day


For more information, contact:

Jose Dubeux (UF/IFAS – NFREC)
dubeux@ufl.edu or 850-526-1618

Doug Mayo (UF/IFAS Jackson County Extension)
demayo@ufl.edu or 850-482-9620


SARE logoUF IFAS Ext 2013










Author: dubeux – dubeux@ufl.edu


Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/09/12/integrating-perennial-peanut-into-bahia-pasture-field-day-october-9/

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