The growing conditions have been perfect recently; a mix of warm, sunny, showery weather has meant that the grass and weeds have shot up in the last few weeks. Some weed species are now too big to control, and we have a small number of sheep on a large area of field, so we have had to give them a helping hand and top the paddock before assessing what herbicide we need to use in a few weeks. Topped grass is not harmful to sheep as they won’t eat much of the toppings due to having easier access to the newer growth lower down.
Topping is very beneficial for paddock maintenance as it helps to improve the pasture by encouraging new leaf growth and shoots from the base of the grass, resulting in a thicker sward. If the sward is nice and thick, there are fewer opportunities for weeds to grow. However, avoid topping too frequently, as this can damage the grass root system.
Useful Info: Herbicide treatments can be done as long as the weeds are actively growing. If you have recently re/overseeded an area you need to wait 6 months before being able to use a selective weed killer. You can use a selective weed killer first in which case you only need to wait 8 weeks before re/overseeding.
A selective weed killer will kill the broadleaf weed and not the grass – you will need to check the product label to chose which one is right for the weeds you have to treat.
The area we have topped is grass and large bundles of nettles. Due to the herbicide restrictions, we have topped the weeds on the patch we have re-seeded to stop them from ‘going to seed’. We will spray these properly next spring.
The weeds and grass in the rest of the field have been topped in preparation for spraying the regrowth when the weeds are about 3-4” tall.
It is essential that you regularly check your paddock after topping for any signs of weeds and ensure appropriate action is taken. Now the grass is topped, we can see what weeds are underneath to establish what weedkiller we need to use.
Horses must not be allowed to graze the pasture until any cut grass has completely dried out or has been removed.
We have a number of selective weedkillers which can help you out. The most popular are Grazon Pro 1 Litre, for controlling perennial broad-leaved weeds such as nettles, docks, thistles, brambles, gorse & broom in established grassland. Thrust 5 Litre controls annual and broad-leaved weeds such as docks, buttercups, smaller thistles and is particularly effective on the troublesome weed ragwort.
Important Ragwort Info: The best time to control ragwort is when it is at rosette stage. Ragwort becomes palatable to grazing animals when it is dead and therefore more poisonous at this stage. When treating ragwort, ensure it has died and disappeared before putting grazing animals back on the area (minimum 2 weeks after spraying).
Useful Info: There is also a herbicide called Leystar 2L that can be used on newly sown grass. It is one of only a few select herbicides which can be used on newly sown leys. You will need to read the label for timings of application and weeds controlled.