Species Specifics: Leafy spurge

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Leafy spurge

Where leafy spurge grows, grass production plummets. Due to its ability to crowd out desirable plants, this weed has been shown to decrease pasture carrying capacity by up to 75%.1 With a solid treatment plan, you can prevent leafy spurge from taking over pastures and avoid more costly control efforts down the road.

What to look for

Leafy spurge grows 2 to 3 feet from a woody crown that stays below the soil surface. Each crown area produces several upright stems. Leaves are numerous, linear-shaped and bluish green in color during the spring and summer months. When temperatures cool down in the fall, the leaves will turn yellow or reddish orange. Yellow flowers produce a seed capsule that can shoot seeds up to 15 feet.

Where it is found

Leafy spurge can be found in pastures across the United States, testing even the most experienced weed fighter. With a root system that can penetrate nearly 30 feet deep and reproductive buds that can send up new shoots from 3 feet below the soil surface, this nonnative perennial can survive extreme drought or months of flooding. Dense infestations often create biological monocultures fit for neither livestock grazing nor wildlife.

How to treat

Leafy spurge treatments will be most successful when applied at the true flower growth stage (mid- to late June) or during fall regrowth. GrazonPD3 and Tordon® 22K herbicides can help you reclaim land lost to leafy spurge.

Broadcast recommendation: Use GrazonPD3 herbicide at 40 fluid ounces per acre to control leafy spurge before flower. For fall application, apply 40 to 80 fluid ounces per acre after the first hard freeze.

Leafy spurge should be treated annually for at least two consecutive years. Be sure to monitor the treated area and reapply when the level of control falls below 80%.

Spot/patch recommendation: Apply 2 pints of Tordon 22K herbicide per acre or tank-mix 1.5 to 2 pints of Tordon 22K herbicide and 1 quart of 2,4-D amine (4 pounds per gallon) per acre.

New patches often establish on the perimeter of the main infestation. They must be eliminated to contain the spread. Treat 15 feet beyond infested area to capture the full extent of the infestation in the application.

As with any herbicide recommendation for your pastures, the best treatment will be operation-specific. Reach out to your local Range & Pasture specialist for additional insights and suggested treatment options.

1Stone, G. 2020. Leafy spurge. https://beef.unl.edu/beefwatch/2020/leafy-spurge-0

GrazonPD3™ is a Restricted Use Pesticide. GrazonPD3 is not registered for sale or use in all states. Contact your state pesticide regulatory agency to determine if a product is registered for sale or use in your state. GrazonPD3 is not for sale, distribution or use in Nassau and Suffolk Counties in New York State. Always read and follow label directions. Tordon® 22K is a Restricted Use Pesticide. Tordon 22K is not registered for sale or use in all states. Contact your state pesticide regulatory agency to determine if a product is registered for sale or use in your state. Always read and follow label directions. 


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