Cocklebur Control

Most Effective Products

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Emulsifiable Concentrate (EC)
As low as $20.95
Fahrenheit Herbicide
Water Dispersible Granule (WDG)
As low as $30.00
Nanotek Surfactant
Surfactant
As low as $27.99
Keith's Pro Tips

"To protect your pets fur from bur seeds, use a vest or coat certified for dogs or cats to avoid seeds from attaching near sensitive areas."

Cocklebur Control: How to Get Rid of Common Cocklebur

This page is a general DIY guide for controlling cocklebur. Using the products and methods suggested you get control of cockleburs. Follow this DIY article and use the recommended products, and we guarantee 100% control of cocklebur.

Cocklebur, also known as common or rough cocklebur, is a summer annual weed that produces a rough touch due to its stiff hairs on its leaves and prickly burr seeds. It bears enough warning that this invasive plant will easily stick to your skin, clothing, or animals fur like velcro. This plant typically invades farmlands, woodlands, grassy areas, natural open areas associated with water like ditches or water holes, areas where vegetation or soil removed or topsoil is exposed, and other dry sites.

Found throughout the western and southern portion of the United States, this common weed is a native to North America. It became widespread due to its ability to easily attach itself to you or your animals fur with its stiff, hooked spines. This invasive weed is monoecious, meaning it contains both female and male parts thus it is able to self-pollinate. Due to both of these factors, cocklebur can aggressively overtake pastures, crops, and other desired areas in a short period.

Each bur contains 2 seeds, which are poisonous to livestock animals if ingested. These burs and spines of the cocklebur often are mistaken for burdock. Both of these weeds will have bur-like seeds, but each one will have a different location it is found in. Cockleburs will flourish in warmer regions whereas burdock will not.

For pastures and properties facing an infestation of cocklebur it is best to quickly remove or prevent these weeds from growing. Refer to our DIY guide, which will present recommended steps through our lawn care experts and suggest products that will eliminate cockleburs in a cost-efficient manner.

Identification

Before proceeding with a treatment program, you will need to be certain that you are dealing with a cocklebur infestation. Careless identification can lead you to using the wrong treatment methods which can be a waste of time and money. Below are the following characteristics to know what cocklebur looks like.

Cocklebur Seeds

  • Stems of cocklebur will usually be erect with multiple branches, spotted, and feel rough to the touch. They will grow 2 to 4 feet tall.
  • Cocklebur leaves will be alternate, 3 to 5 lobe, and have toothed edges. Each individual leaf is generally a triangular shape that grows up to 6 inches long. On both sides of the leaves there are tiny hairs.
  • A single cocklebur plant grows clusters of flowers from June to November. These clusters contain round flower heads and ovular burrs. When fruiting, cocklebur will bear two seeds that are shaped cylindrical and is spiny. Including the spines, the burs will range between 1.5 to 3 cm long. 
  • These oval-shaped burs contain the seeds. The burrs start green in color but will brown as the plant completes its life cycle and dies. 
  • Flowers of cocklebur will be hard to see and colored a creamy green. The male and female flowers will be separate, but found on the same plant. Male flowers are on the actual bur seed while the female flowers will be lower on the stem.

Use the description and image above to help you properly identify cocklebur on your property. If unsure, contact us and send a photo of your weed through email or in person at one of our stores to help you identify the weed and suggest treatment options.

Inspection

Once confirmed that you are dealing with cocklebur, you can then move on to inspection. During this phase, you will locate areas where cocklebur is thriving and observe the conditions that are allowing it to thrive. This information will help you in knowing where to focus your herbicide application.

Cocklebur

Where to Inspect

Cocklebur can grow anywhere in areas where the soil is disturbed and exposed to the sun such as barnyards, pastures, fields, and wooded areas.

This plant is tolerant to a variety of soils ranging from moist clay to dry sand, but grows best in soils that are slightly moist underneath the surface and contain organic matter. These conditions are commonly found along ponds, ditches, areas prone to flooding, and fields used for grazing.

What to Look For

Cocklebur is a competitive weed that will quickly overtake the area it is infesting. From May to June, when temperatures are warmer the seeds of cocklebur will emerge. Seeds of cocklebur appear green in coloration if they are beginning their first stage of growth.

More mature plants will appear deeper into the summer. Later on in September, the cocklebur seeds will change from green to brown and begin to display flowers and new burs until frost from winter occurs.

Treatment

After identifying cocklebur and inspecting where it is most active in your lawn, you can begin to treat your area. Be sure to wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) before handling or applying any type of product.

The burs of cocklebur can be painful to directly handle through hand-pulling techniques. Additionally, the seeds of this summer annual weed can lie dormant in your soil for up to 5 years.

Due to these reasons, it is best to remove cocklebur with a selective, post-emergent herbicide containing 2,4-D, dicamba, or glyphosate.

Step 1: Mix and Apply Herbicide

Mixing Herbicide

2,4-D Amine Selective Post-Emergent Herbicide is a post-emergent herbicide that contains the active ingredient 2,4-D 46.8%. This product is a flowable emulsifiable concentrate that can treat various broadleaf weeds such as cocklebur in residential lawns, grassy areas, drainage ditch banks, and cool-seasoned turf. 

Fahrenheit Herbicide is a post-emergent herbicide that contains the active ingredient Dicamba 33% and Metsulfuron-methyl 5%. This product is water disersable granulet that will kill weeds like cocklebur and other broadleaf and grassy weeds in warm-seasoned turf. 

Measure the square footage of the treatment area to determine how much product material to use. To find this, measure the treatment areas length and width in feet and multiply them together (length X width = square footage).

In cool seasoned grass, we recommend using 2,4-D Amine Selective Post-Emergent Herbicide. Mix 1/4 pint of 2,4-D Amine Selective Post-Emergent Herbicide in 3 gallons of water to kill cockleburs in ornamental turf areas as spot treatment. When treating near ditch banks, do not spray across ditch bank water to reach the other side or spray directly into the water. Use 1/2 gallon of product in 1 to 5 gallons of water per acre.

To get rid of cocklebur in warm-seasoned grasses, we recommend Fahrenheit Herbicide. For spot applications, mix 0.2 oz. of Fahrenheit Herbicide in 1 gallon of water per 1,000 sq. feet. For broadcast applications, apply 4 to 6 oz. of product in 20 to 80 gallons of water per acre. 

Once you have determined how much product to use begin the mixing process. Fill a handheld pump sprayer or backpack sprayer halfway with water, then add the appropriate amount of product, and then fill the rest of the way with remaining half of water. Close the sprayer tank lid and shake to ensure that the solution is well-mixed.

We recommend using Nanotek Surfactant as well during your herbicide applications. Nanotek is a non-herbicide product designed to improve the adhesion and penetration of pesticides onto treated surfaces. When using Nanotek Surfactant, just add 1 fl. oz. per 1 gallon of solution.

During application, adjust the sprayer nozzle to a fan-spray setting so it will spray a fine mist on the top and bottom of the cocklebur leaves. Spray to the point of wet, but not runoff. 

Step 2: Follow Up Application

Spraying Turf

When applied properly, affected weeds will yellow and begin to die. 

Cocklebur is an aggressively growing weed that produces seeds (known as burs), which will lay dormant in soil for up to 5 years. Typically, this plant will begin to grow from May to June. For this reason, it best to perform a second application especially if recovery is observed after herbicide applications. 

Reapplication intervals with 2, 4-D Amine range from 21 to 30 days. Reapplication intervals with Fahrenheit range from 4 to 6 weeks.

Prevention

Once cocklebur has been eliminated from your property, you will need to implement some preventative measures which will ensure that this summer annual weed does not return.

Mowing Grass

  • To limit the spread of new cockleburs onto your property, newly emerged plants can be manually pulled from the ground. Hoe newly emerged cockleburs until the roots of the plant are exposed and the seeds (burs) have been disposed in the nearest trash disposal. Leaving seeds on the ground can cause later infestations within a 5 year time span. For easier root pulling, moisten the area with water to loosen the plant roots.
  • Mow your lawn when the turf has reached 3 inches in height to cease cocklebur growth and seed activity.
  • Inspect your clothing such as your shirt, pants, socks, and shoe laces to avoid carrying and dropping cocklebur seeds in various parts of your yard.
  • Keep pets and other livestock animals out of the area until cocklebur has been removed to keep the burs from sticking to their fur and spreading. You may also consider trimming your pets hair to prevent burs from sticking to their fur and to make removal easier.

Key Takeaways

What is Cockleburs?

  • Cockleburs are a common summer annual weed that grows on lawns, brush areas, along ditches and is known for its prickly burs.

How to Get Rid of Cockleburs

  • To treat new or established cockleburs, we recommend spraying 2,4-D Amine Selective Post-Emergent Herbicide and Fahrenheit Herbicide. Spray this product during the spring and early summer, such as May to June when cockleburs are relatively young and have not yet produced seeds.

Preventing Cockleburs

  • Prevent Cocklebur by mowing yards and other grassy areas as needed to keep them from growing or emerging from past seeds.
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