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2 Missouri pasture weeds to watch in 2024
Missouri Ag Connection - 03/28/2024

University of Missouri Extension weed scientist Kevin Bradley is highlighting two invasive weeds that Missouri farmers should be aware of in 2024: knotroot foxtail and fountain grass.

Knotroot foxtail, a perennial weed with short rhizomes, is spreading in Missouri pastures. While its presence in the state has been documented, Bradley hasn't encountered it in pastures before. Recent reports confirm its presence in Bates, Cape Girardeau, and Moniteau counties.

It offers poor forage quality for livestock and its seeds can irritate horses' mouths. Due to its persistent root system, controlling this weed requires spot treatment after scouting fields.

The second weed of concern is fountain grass, an invasive species known to choke out desirable pasture grasses. This waxy, spiny plant is unpalatable to cattle. While primarily found in warmer climates, fountain grass tolerates mild winters and has been reported in at least 10 Missouri counties, mostly north of Interstate 70.

Once used as an ornamental, it spreads readily due to its extensive root system and can negatively impact wildlife habitat. Eradicating established fountain grass is challenging, but the USDA recommends manually pulling plants and disposing of them properly, avoiding burning.

Bradley emphasizes the importance of scouting pastures and hayfields to identify and address these invasive weeds early. Maintaining good pasture and hayfield management practices, including regular soil testing and fertility management, is crucial for overall pasture health.

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