Why is Barnyardgrass So Abundant in Many Hay Fields and Pastures This Year?

This year many farmers are wondering why barnyardgrass is present in unusual abundance in their hay fields and pastures.  This annual warm-season grass weed is physically similar to Japanese millet and is found throughout the world.  In North America it is found from Mexico to Alaska.  This discussion will cover: Forage quality and palatability questions and concerns Factors that contributed to the problem in 2013 Crop management implications Physical description Depending on growing conditions and the time of germination, mature barnyardgrass plants may be between 1 and 6.5 feet tall. Larger plants with more dense tillering (thick clumps with many shoots) can be expected in areas of very high fertility and/or less frequent harvest. Stems are coarse and may range from 0.15 to 0.5 inches in diameter. Leaves are between 4 and 12 inches long, up to 0.6 inches wide, green in color and occasionally have a reddish hue. Seed heads have a sparse panicle arrangement (i.e., shaped like a ‘Charlie Brown Christmas tree’), generally have between four and seven lateral branches, and may be reddish-purple and/or green in color. Branches of the seedhead range from 0.75 to 2.5 inches long and have bristly seeds densely packed along the length. Roots are dense and fibrous. First things first: what about the forage qualit

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2 thoughts on “Why is Barnyardgrass So Abundant in Many Hay Fields and Pastures This Year?

  1. In southern VT and western MA pastures, the problem annual this year was a different warm-season grass: foxtail. Crabgrass was heavy in cultivated fields. The causes were the same as what Dan describes, but on soils that are a bit better drained.


  2. Yes Dan, we too have unusual amount of Barnyard Grass, but even more Japanese Stiltgrass and Perilla Mint emerging from fringes of woods well out through our pastures. The cattle like the former but won’t touch the latter (which is toxic). I suppose I’ll have to do some mowing next summer!

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