Fall Control of Perennial Weeds

Mark VanGessel, Extension Weed Specialist; mjv@udel.edu

Fall is often the best time and the most convenient time to treat most perennial weeds because it is the time that plants are best able to move the herbicide to the roots where it will have the greatest benefit. When considering fall weed control, the emphasis should be on what the patch of weeds will look like next spring or summer, not the amount of dead stems this fall. Also, it is important to consider that a fall application will not eradicate a stand of perennial weeds; the fall application will reduce the stand size or the stand vigor next spring. Fall applications of glyphosate is the most flexible treatment for most perennial weeds such as bermudagrass, Canada thistle, common milkweed, common pokeweed, dock, hemp dogbane, horsenettle and johnsongrass. Rates of 1 to 1.25 lb acid per acre are consistently the most economical (or about 1.5X the normal use rate for annual weeds). Dicamba (Banvel) at 2 to 4 pints is also labeled for artichoke, bindweeds, dock, hemp dogbane, horsenettle, milkweeds, pokeweed or Canada thistle. Planting small grains must be delayed after dicamba application 20 days per pint of dicamba applied. Fall herbicide applications should be made to actively growing plants. It is best to spray prior to mowing the corn stalks and allow plants to recover after harvest. Allow 10 to 14 days after treatment before disturbing the treated plants. If fall applications are delayed, remember weed species differ in their sensitivity to frost; some are easily killed by frost (i.e. horsenettle) others can withstand relatively heavy frosts. Check the weeds prior to application to be sure they are actively growing.