Foxtail Barley Hitting More No-Till Fields

Montana State University reports that foxtail barley is becoming an increasing problem as it colonizes no-till fields and reduces hay and pasture quality.

Although tillage has been successful in curbing the spread of foxtail barley, the weed has become a problem in conservation tillage systems, MSU reports.

Foxtail barley is not a very competitive species, but infestations can develop quickly, particularly in fall-seeded cereals where the crop and weed develop at the same time.

Foxtail barley propagates mainly by seeds that germinate at or near the soil surface in the lower temperatures of fall and spring. Seedlings and adults usually resume their growth in late April to May, giving them an edge over many crops.

Chemical management of foxtail barley in cereal fields is difficult due to the reduced number of effective in-crop herbicides and their high cost. Olympus and Olympus flex are viable options to control foxtail barley in wheat. However, this product cannot be applied in barley, and it has very long residual activity.

Roundup kills foxtail barley seedlings, but repeated applications might be needed to control established plants.

Thus, no-tillers planting barley should develop an integrated weed management plan that uses a wide range of agronomic practices such as crop rotation, row spacing and seeding rates to reduce the risk of foxtail barley, MSU recommends.

An integrated approach to foxtail barley management should start by considering whether the ground is saline, seasonally wet or overgrazed, since these factors lead to infestations. In such cases, irrigation and grazing…

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