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How To Remove Smutgrass

If you are a cattle rancher or in the agricultural industry, you are well aware of smutgrass. Smutgrass is perhaps the leading invasive weed species on pastures, especially in the southern parts of the U.S. The invasive, perennial bunchgrass, native to Asia, reseeds at an alarming rate. When these seeds sprout onto your landscape, you’ll want to act fast. Not only is smutgrass unsightly, it can hinder crop cultivation. The invasive bunch grass offers little nutritional value and reduces the quality of hay for cattle to feed on.In bermudagrass hayfields, total forage removal gives smutgrass a greater chance to spread and establish more seedlings before the bermudagrass can regrow.


Smutgrass is very tough to control because depending on your approach, trying to eradicate smutgrass can be dangerous as it is a carrier of black smut fungus, which can do some serious damage on your desired vegetation.At Solutions Pest and Lawn, we carry the best products to get rid of this troublesome plant. Learn a little bit about smutgrass and how you can eliminate this weed with the right technique and products.


Smutgrass Background Information

Smutgrass is an aggressive bunchgrass that causes serious problems on ranges and pastures. It is most notably prevalent in Florida but also has spread to Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Smutgrass is Native to tropical Asia which explains it’s tolerance for drought and thriving among conditions without needing moisture.


There are two main smutgrass species that are found in the U,S., small smutgrass (Sporobolus indicus) and giant smutgrass, which is also known as West Indian dropseed (Sporobolus indicus var. pyramidalis). Small smutgrass was once the predominant smutgrass species throughout Florida. Small smutgrass has a compact seedhead and is almost always infected with a black fungus. Smutgrass produces seeds from May to all through the summer throughout the Southeast. Mechanical control is not a good option in eliminating smutgrass as it can actually increase its seed production.


Smutgrass bring no nutritional value and is unpalatable to cattle. Cows don’t like to eat it and so when it begins to overtake an area, animals overgraze the more desirable grasses thus allowing smutgrass to spread even more.


Smutgrass Control Options


Recommended Pre-emergent and Post-emergent Herbicides:


As with any invasive weed, the ideal time to apply herbicides to control smutgrass is early and often, especially before the density of the weed is too great. Once smutgrass covers more than 50 percent of the pasture, it’s often too late for spot-treating. When an infestation gets up to 60 or 70 percent, you may have to renovate your entire pasture and start from scratch which can be quite costly. Hopefully this wouldn’t have to be the case after using one of our recommended herbicide options above.


Spraying for smutgrass is usually not effective until the Spring season. This is when the plant is actively growing. Using RoundUp or Glyphosate is likely your best option in eradicating smutgrass, but bear in mind that Glyphosate is a non-selective weed killer so you should be extra careful in not allowing the chemical to get on your ornamentals or your other desired grasses and vegetation. We would recommend painting the chemical on the plants to be on the safe side, but if there’s a large infestation you have to deal with, that wouldn’t be practical.


Whether you go selective or non-selective with your herbicide, you will likely have to conduct follow-up applications. Timing is important as you don’t want to apply the herbicide if there is rainfall expected to happen within days of the application.

Smutgrass Control Tips and Recommendations


  • Adding a surfactant to your pesticide may be a good idea that may help increase control of smutgrass by combating surface tension. Another good idea, especially on large ranges and pastures is to utilize a Spray Pattern indicator to mark areas of your lawn that you have already treated with herbicide to avoid over spraying.


  • Please follow instructions on the label when handling herbicides since they have the proper mixing rates. Using a hand-pump sprayer we would recommend is the best method of spraying herbicides on Smutgrass

  • Herbicides chemicals that are handled by lawn owners should always be applied with ther proper protection. Protect your eyes, skin, mouth and nose by wearing safety equipment and long sleeved clothes and closed shoes..

  • Be sure to browse our  knowledge base and check out our informative How-To Videos to get more a thorough walkthrough in applying the herbicides we carry.

To get more information on eliminating smutgrass and other troublesome weeds in your land as well as receive free help over the phone, contact us at askapro@solutionsstores.com or call our customer service line at (800) 479-6583.

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