Agronomy and Horticulture Department


Date of this Version



Insect Science, Plant Disease, & Weed Science, University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources 88(23) (September 13, 1988)


Copyright 1988 University of Nebraska


In This Issue:

  • Rangeland Weed Control with Atrazine
  • Musk Thistle Control
  • Field Bindweed and Other Perennials
  • Leafy Spurge Control

Rangeland Weed Control with Atrazine

Downy brome, hairy chess, pennycress, and mustards can be effectively controlled in rangeland with atrazine. It's not necessary to wait until late fall. Actually the most effective control would be from applications made in early fall. Winter annual weeds start growth in late August and September. Atrazine applications in September would be most effective on the newly germinated weeds. Use 1 to 2 pints of atrazine or AAtrex 4L or equivalent amounts of other atrazine formulations. Bluegrass and intermediate wheatgrass may be injured by the treatments. Aerial or ground applications can be made. According to the label, livestock should not be grazed for 7 months after making fall treatments.

Musk Thistle Control

October and early November are excellent times to control musk thistle providing the weather cooperates. A good fall control program normally eliminates the need for spring control. This is because plants that would flower next summer are normally growing in the fall. However, the success of a fall control program depends on adequate fall rainfall. Dry weather reduces musk thistle seed germination and plant establishment. Where the weather has been dry, there may be no plants to control. Examine the site and determine if the thistle population justifies spraying. Herbicides and per acre rates to use on musk thistle are Tordon 22K at 6 to 8 fluid ounces, 2,4-D + Banvel at 1.0 lb + 0.5 pt, and 2,4-0 at 1.5 to 2.0 lb. These treatments are ranked in order of effectiveness for fall application. Under very dry, cool conditions only Tordon can be expected to perform well. Treatments should be applied after October 1.

Field Bindweed and Other Perennials

Perennial weeds including field bindweed, Canada thistle, and others can be effectively treated with herbicides in the fall. Food storage in the root system of these plants is taking place in the fall. Herbicides applied at this time to plants with excellent top growth readily move down to the roots along with the food. In the fall, temperatures and soil moisture are generally more favorable for plant growth than during the summer, a condition required for best herbicide performance.

Leafy Spurge Control

Special attention should be given to the control of leafy spurge during the fall. Research has shown more consistent control of leafy spurge with fall herbicide treatments compared to spring applications.