Summer weed control


Active Member
I've been away for a while, "life" seems to get in the way sometimes, but I'm glad to see the site doing well.

In thinking about my plans for this summer I'm having a mental wrestling match I'm hoping you guys can weigh in on. I have one particular plot that has been a bear to deal with as far as weeds and I'm trying to decide if this year will be the year I lay the law down.

Plot is 7 acres and is located in the South Carolina piedmont (zone 7b). The main weed problems (although I have lots of variety when it comes to weeds) are Johnsongrass and carolina horsenettle.

Looking at herbicides, it looks like the best options for horsenettle would mean no broadleaf plantings for 1-3 years (legumes, brassicas) and likely no cereal grains for a year. That won't work. Glyphosate seems to have some effectiveness depending on when it is sprayed. Glyphosate will get the Johnsongrass, but I'm thinking I will need to till to cut and expose more rhizomes throughout the growing season to get a more complete kill. Tillage seems to do more to spread horsenettle, unless it is frequent tillage.

I say all that to say, I'm trying to decide if I would be better off spending the summer tilling this field every 2-3 weeks, or till it - wait 3 weeks, spray it, wait 2 weeks and till again - repeating the process through the summer. Or maybe just spray it once a month with a hot dose of glyphosate and plant later in the fall within 30 days of first frost.

Weed pressure is becoming excessive, so I need to do something different. Just not sure what. Any thoughts?
Tilling Johnson Grass does not work! (not in my experience anyway, unless you want to invigorate it). My best luck with JG is to keep it sprayed and keep it LOW. Spray often, mow often, or graze often so that it can't keep adding energy into it's rhizomes. Anything that kills JG is also going to kill cereal grains. You might try RR beans, or Liberty beans so that you can still grow a food plot in the summer and keep it sprayed. JG goes dormant early in the fall so a late planting of cereal grains is still doable while attacking JG as long as you don't mind killing it in the spring.

I don't know anything about Horsenettle...
I'm actually thinking about not planting the plot this summer, and just focus on weed control for an entire season. I know summer forage is important and all, but I have 25 acres of timber that was cut within close range of this plot.

My thought is to use the value of browse that will pop up in the cutovers as a crutch this summer. It's not ideal but I won't have that much browse available that close to the area anytime in the near future. Also, it would be good to have this plot hitting on all cylinders since this area is likely going to see a big increase in deer bedding nearby in the coming years.
I'm sort of in Cat's camp on this. Tilling JG simply seems to spread it in my experience. I would be planting a round-up ready crop of corn or soybeans and be prepared to spray at least twice. Spray once before any tillage prior to planting and then spray again as either the weeds start to compete with your crop OR right before the crop gets too tall and can be damaged by your equipment. As much as everybody hates gly - it can do a real good job of controlling weeds.....until the weeds become resistant. Also you could plant a RR crop and then specifically target the opposite weed family (plant corn and smack the plot with broadleaf/brush killer, or plant beans an smack the JG with cleth and gly). Either crop you can certainly broadcast cereal grains and brassica into by hand....not that I would do all 7 the late summer/early fall as well if you wanted to. Your other option is to spray, till, spray, till and so on until you reduce the seed bank in your plot.....and your still not going to get all of it in my opinion.
Don’t plant the plot this summer and focus on the weeds. There is no need to do any tillage. Nuke the JG and horse-nettle with Roundup every time it gets about 12 to 16 inches tall. You will have to stay on top of it but this will work. In the fall you could plant cereal grains or brassicas.

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I thought the only thing that would kill JG was shade. I think I'd rather waste a year(season) nuking the weeds every month than to deal with them for the next 5 years by tilling and planting cover crops.
You guys are kind of confirming my thoughts, that it would be better to not plant and spend the summer killing weeds. Spraying multiple times over the summer rather than planting is certainly doable.

In thinking about what to do the following spring though, it seems like I would be better to go to a no-till planting so as to not disturb the seed bank where I would have Johnsongrass and horsenettle seed and rhizomes still viable.

My concern with RR corn or beans is the cost involved and the doubt that I would pull off a successful crop. This particular field is not great soil. If I went to a no-till planting the following spring I would probably look at Alyce clover and/or possibly sunn hemp. I don't think I would no-till sorghum until I had a summer without Johnsongrass - or at least JG that could be managed by hand or with a wick.
You may spend more than just one summer trying to rid yourself of the JG. Be prepared for that.
One day someone is going to come up with a chemical that'll kill that stuff and that guy is gonna get a raise !!
Yeah this isn't my first rodeo with this field, or with Johnsongrass. I have fought it and won in other fields where RR crops were a better option. I'm actually more concerned about the horsenettle. Outside of a hot dose of glyphosate, the herbicide options are not good for wildlife plantings following treatment.
Spraying each month will only put down way to much GLY. The max recommended amount is 4 qt per acre per year. Keep this in mind.

Besides loosing out on a good thing and taking the chance of other weeds becoming a problem look at planting a clover. Spring planted med red, for quick growth, will help shade out a lot of competition and applying GLY with a weed wiper as needed. This will cut down the amount of GLY used per year and weed wiper kits are fairly cheap if you go with a make your own kit to be used with PVC pipe.

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Longleaf ....last year a farmer friend gave me 8 bags of LIBERTY linked soybean seed from his planter clean out of course required a liberty based herbicide ....a bit more pricey than Roundup and the generic "Liberty" chemical is a bit more pricey than the generic "gly" product ...BUT MY MY MY the job the Liberty technology herbicide did on EVERYONE of my "10 most wanted" ...j-grass,cockelbur.pigweed,nightshade,lambs quarter and on and on was unbelievable ...if it has a short coming it was grass which I learned was easily solved this tells all

Happy holidays all