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Three weeds taking over fields in Missouri
Missouri Ag Connection - 02/08/2024

Weeds are a constant battle for Missouri farmers, but three newcomers are raising eyebrows and causing trouble across the state. From pastures to crop fields, these invasive species demand attention and strategic management.

1. Little Barley: The Sneaky Spring Intruder

Remember all those "little barley" questions at the MU Crop Management Conference? This winter annual grass, previously under the radar, is now a hot topic. Mimicking small grains, it matures early, turning tan or brown by spring. Look for its alternating leaves (1-5 inches long) and loosely wrapped green sheaths. This clumping grass is small but persistent.

2. Knotroot Foxtail: The Deceptive Perennial

Don't be fooled by its resemblance to yellow foxtail! This annual imposter is a short perennial with tricky rhizomes (knotty roots). While primarily a southern problem, recent confirmations in Bates, Cape Girardeau, and Moniteau counties suggest it might be more widespread than expected. Limited herbicide options exist, but mechanical removal offers control while preserving desirable forage.

3. Chinese Fountain Grass: The Invader with No Nutritional Value

While not new to Missouri (first reported in 2018), this green-leaved, purple-headed grass is multiplying fast. Unlike its ornamental relative, Chinese fountain grass offers little nutritional value and readily takes over pastures. Spot-spraying or eliminating infected stands are the current options, although long-term solutions remain elusive due to persistent seeds in the soil.

Staying Ahead of the Curve:

These three emerging threats highlight the importance of staying informed about weed trends. By recognizing these invaders and understanding their management options, Missouri farmers can proactively protect their crops and pastures. Remember, early detection and strategic action are key to winning the battle against unwanted plants.

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