View Full Version : NWSG concerns. Advice needed.

06-12-2010, 08:11 AM
Last fall I killed off existing fescue, johnson grass and lespedeza with escort mixed with glyphosate. This spring (April) I added another round of glyphosate. There were some weeds still existing when the NWSG/frobes blend were planted (no till drill) in early May, but not a lot. Went out yesterday to see how things look and the johnson grass is widespread and tall. There is also short layer of something that looks like crab grass. I don't see anything germinating in the planter rows where I would expect the new NG. There were some very heavy rains soon after the seed was drilled in. I'm not sure what is going on with the new grass. Here are my questions.

Does NWSG take a long time to germinate?
Could the rain have washed it out?
What should I do about the new weeds that have showed up?

06-12-2010, 08:39 AM
Great questions, and anyone who has ever planted NG has been there and done that.

First, yes NG takes much longer to make an above ground appearance than does cool season grass. It is genetically programed to start growing a deep root before you see much on top. On my thread "Plots and Micro-Habitat Management" you can see I was surprised at the amount of growth we had the first year (2009), and that was only because several variables came together perfectly. It is very common to see very little growing the first year, and we are still just at the beginning of the "intense" portion of the short growing season.

Now, it is common with a drill to plant NG to deep. It should have been planted no more than 1/4" in depth, and deeper than this can cause a complete failure.

Weed control is always tough, especially Johnson Grass. Weeds that are not noxious though are really forbs and one of the main food sources for deer. The seeds also attract birds etc. Johnson grass is tough to kill with just RU anymore, and you will have to use different herbicides that are targeted to the Johnson Grass during application, i.e. using a wick or spot spraying. Others may disagree with me here, but other than noxious weeds, I'm inclined to control most weeds the first year or two by mowing. Start out at 4" and gradually move up so as the NG grows you are cutting just above its height. Burn the first spring you have enough of a fuel load. Eventually, the tall grasses will begin to dominate, over years, and shade out the weeds. Then, to keep the NG stand attractive for wildlife you will find yourself either using herbicides or strip disking to encourage forb growth again. NG does have to be managed for the results we are looking for.

Finally, be patient. Establishing NG is a slow process and on average 3 years is needed to see decent results. That's much of the reason I did my thread. It shows what a slow process it is; however, it is now year 2 of the growing season and my NG is starting to shoot past all of my beautiful wild flowers. It will happen, but if planted too deep, you will probably need to start over. If possible, if you drill again, broadcast some seed on top before driliing and allow the weight of the drill to push the seed into having good soil contact. A good portion, probably a third of the seed, should be visible on top of the ground for a successful planting. If it is too deep, the seed does not provide enough energy for the plant to make it to the surface where sun will provide the necessary energy to keep going.

Best wishes, and again be patient!

06-12-2010, 09:12 AM
The Johnson Grass needs to go. It spreads by rizomes, is toxic to other plants, and will take over. Spraying Johnson Grass with Glyphosate will only produce a top kill.

Plateau was developed to promote NWSG, and will kill the Johnson Grass. If you use it, follow the label, because too much Plateau will injure NWSG. Sprayed according to the label my 1st year NWSG, appeared out of nowhere.;)

06-12-2010, 09:34 AM
Sounds like an uphill battle to me if everything was not for sure killed before the NWSG was planted. I believe that outrider will kill Johnson Grass, but not NWSG. Not sure of outriders affect on such young NWSG tho.

tom tuchscherer
06-12-2010, 10:54 AM
Just to share my experience. 3 years ago I planted 30 acres to WSG and forbs. I was sure it was a failure. Nothing really the first year, a little canada wild rye and weeds, the next year more canada rye and quite a few of the flowers, last year about 30 shoots of big bluestem, some indiangrass. and 2 shoots of switch I could find along with lots of flowers.
This spring I did a burn, now going into my 4th growing season there is switch everywhere, big blue, indiangrass, flowers etc,,,,,. It sure does take patience. I did mow the first year and spot mowed the second.

I did plant 10 additional acres to WSG's and forbs this past winter/spring via frost seeding. Just mowed it for the first time. You couldn't have planted a better crop of clover!!!!! This ground was in set aside the previous 10 years, sprayed 4 times last year. Crazy what's in that seed bank.
I will continue to mow the new 10 acres this summer, mow again next spring, figure I have a total failure, and in three years or so, probably end up with a wonderful prairie!!!!!

As so many have said,,,, patience. Of course, something could have gone wrong for you, but I'll bet in time yours will turn out.

Good luck!!!!

06-12-2010, 11:04 AM
...now you know how to release Johnsongrass :)

Exposing the rhizomes in the fall with discing helps some as well to kill it, but may disturb other weeds you don't want that are in the seed bank. Try the herbicides Letemgrow and Brushpile have suggested and follow up with the discing a year or 2 later along with the herbicide if you don't get the response you were looking for in it. Be patient with the NWSG planting though...takes a while.

06-12-2010, 11:46 AM
Seems like many herbicides release undesireables. Glyphosate top kills Johnson Grass, but kills weeds/fescue that were competing with the Johnson Grass. I learned the hard way that glyphosate releases Johnson Grass, which will regrow and rapidly spread once its competition is removed.

Plateau removes competition from NWSG, and leaves many wildflowers unharmed. Unfortunately, it releases Daisy Fleabaine. But, Daisy Fleabaine can be controlled by mowing.

08-04-2010, 04:17 PM
Here it is 3 months after planting and I am seeing some of the wild flowers and maybe a touch of NG, but the JG and foxtail are heavily dominating. These grasses are waist to head high and wide spread. I taked it over with the conservationist from NRCS and he told me not to worry and he wouldn't call it a failure until 3 years in. He did suggest I do something to kill the JG. I called the co-op and they have generic plateau for about $90/quart. I suspect it is a good idea to spend $200 to buy the chemical and MSO and go ahead and spray it now. In looking at the label I should be able to get a kill if I hit it at around 10 oz/acre. Anyone have a better idea? Should I wait and time the spraying later this year or early next year? Thanks for the advice.

08-04-2010, 07:19 PM
Outrider is an option for Johnson Grass control in NWSG...here's the label:

Outrider Herbicide Label (http://www.monsanto.com/monsanto/ag_products/pdf/labels_msds/outrider_label.pdf)

08-05-2010, 10:50 AM
Just to make you feel better JT, I'm going through an extremely similar situation, albeit on a smaller 4 acre planting. I would have sworn at the end of the first growing season that I must have just imagined putting any seed in the ground!

However... this year (after spraying gly in early May & mowing once) I have patches of big bluestem, little bluestem, and indiangrass popping up all over. The competition is primarily lambsquarter, wild carrot, and giant foxtail, which I am planning to spray with either Plateau or Paramount - still researching my options.

I'm a long ways off from total "satisfaction", but things are definitely looking up! :)

08-05-2010, 11:38 PM
Thanks for boosting my confidence a bit TenPoint. I know it's a waiting game, but I expected more this first season. I think I'll study the Plateau (will actually be using Panormaic 2SL) label a bit more to make sure I don't overdue it. With all the JG and FT and the near absence of NG, I don't think I'll do much harm going with the higher rates.

08-07-2010, 11:26 PM
Well the co-op was supposed to have two quarts of panoramic for me but only had one on had. I bought it and at this point am thankful they didn't have two. I got out to the farm late this morning and quickly figured out I was over matched. The JG was 8'+ high and my little sprayer was acting more like a wick than a sprayer. I covered about an acre and called it quits. I just wasn't getting much coverage out of the spray and the conditions were killing me (heat and allergies). I'm curious to see if I made a dent in the problem. I'm thinking now the best approach may be to burn next spring followed by a low dose spray of panoramic about the time the warm season stuff starts to take off.

On a positive note, I got a tree stand trimmed out, some trace mineral and a camera out, so it wasn't a total loss.

08-08-2010, 12:24 AM
You have to do periodic checks on WSG. Stuff can get out of hand quickly. Typically, a mowing the first year is good enough. But when you start talking JG, you will most likely have to wage chemical warfare. You may want to think about using a wick bar as well.

Both the beauty and curse of killing fescue is what can be released in the seedbank.

08-08-2010, 08:57 AM
I spent the day yesterday whacking down 8' plus Johnson Grass in an area that has been treated a dozen times with Glyphosate and Poast Plus. Johnson Grass takes over, so you need to do something now, or there won't be anything left. The area I'm clearing has trees planted in it, but I was amazed that other than the trees, and some pigweed, it was a monoculture of Johnson Grass! Nothing remained of the clover that had been thick, it was totally wiped out from Johnson Grass toxictiy!

Is it possible to mow and then spray? I was having your problems with Johnson Grass in NWSG a couple years ago, and Plateau cured the problem. But Johnson Grass should only be about 12 inches tall when sprayed. The taller it gets, the tougher it is to kill.

01-05-2011, 05:48 PM
Over the summer and fall I didn't see much native grass show up. Some little blue did around the margins and I wonder if these were plants already present and not a result of the seeding in the spring.

I have a couple questions now moving forward. With my somewhat monoculture of JG (there are areas thick with foxtail too) what is my best path moving forward this winter/spring?

I am considering buring it all off in a couple months followed by a dose of panoramic. Is there any chance this will work to control the JG and allow the NWSG to take off a year after seeding? If so, what would be the best timing for the burn and chemical appication? At this point I'm not too concerned with the forbs that were planted so injuring them with the chemical is not a worry. I just want the JG gone and the NG to take hold.

02-08-2011, 02:07 PM

04-14-2011, 01:04 PM
Here's an update on my situation. Maybe it will be helpful to someone.

Due to the results from last growing season, which included a sea of JG and no natives to speak of, I decided to burn and spray this spring. I figured this was the only hope of giving the NG a chance. I had a good burn on March 24, then yesterday (April 13) I sprayed the entire area with 4 oz/acre of Panoramic. The JG was around 4-8" tall already. Some other grasses were coming up as well but I'm not sure if they were natives or other trash. The areas that I sprayed with Panoramic last summer (when it was 8' tall) has little to no JG coming up. So I feel that miserable application was somewhat of a success. I just hope it didn't zap the native grass seed as well.

So I'm looking forward to the next two growing seasons with guarded optimism. I know the panoramic works, I think I hit it at the right time this spring, and I even saw some grass coming up in nice little rows. I also have some chemical left over for spot spraying down the road if needed.

BTW - a quart in my neighborhood runs $61. I think that's on the low side considereing what other posters have mentioned.

04-14-2011, 02:04 PM
Thanks for the update! I have a lot of JG in my pure switch stand, which I'll be treating with Outrider later this spring. I think Outrider is safe on switch and big blue, but not sure about the other natives.