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University of Minnesota Extension

Grass pasture weed control

Quick facts

  • Identify what type of weeds are in your pasture: annuals, biennials or perennials.

  • Control consists of mechanical (e.g. mowing), chemical (e.g. herbicide) and cultural (e.g. overseeding) methods.

  • Pasture management is the best way to prevent weed growth and infestations.

  • There are no selective herbicides for controlling weeds in grass-legume mixed pastures.

Pasture weed control is hard for most horse owners. Many grass pastures in the Midwest contain broadleaf and grassy weeds. Compared to ideal forage species, weeds are

  • Less palatable

  • Less nutritious

  • Lower yielding

Here are some steps for managing weeds in grass pastures.

1. Identify the weed type

There are three types of weeds.

  • Annuals: live for one year

  • Biennials: live for two years

  • Perennials: live for three or more years

2. Control the weeds

Note: Select herbicides carefully and only apply them if necessary. Herbicides labeled for pasture use aren’t harmful to horses if you apply them at the recommended rate and follow all directions. Make sure to read and follow the herbicide label and comply with grazing restrictions.


3. Prevent weed growth

A well-managed pasture will out-compete most weed species.

  • Avoid overgrazing your pastures.

  • Test soil pH and fertility every three years and fertilize and lime if needed.

  • Rest the pasture to allow for plant regrowth after each grazing event.

  • Mow, drag and apply herbicides during the resting period.

Author: Krishona Martinson, equine Extension specialist

Reviewed in 2023

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