Field experiments were conducted from 2007 through 2009 at four locations in Missouri to evaluate the effect of May and August herbicide applications on weed control, total biomass yield, and forage nutritive values. Experiments were conducted in established tall fescue pastures that contained natural infestations of common ragweed and tall ironweed. Treatments consisted of 2,4-D, metsulfuron, aminopyralid, 2,4-D dicamba, 2,4-D picloram, aminopyralid 2,4-D, and 2,4-D dicamba metsulfuron. All herbicide treatments provided > 76% control of common ragweed 1 mo after treatment (MAT), except metsulfuron alone which provided ≤ 62% control. August applications provided greater reductions in common ragweed density than May applications the following spring. Few differences in tall ironweed density were observed, but metsulfuron-containing herbicides tended to provide the lowest reduction in tall ironweed stem density the following spring. Biomass yields were generally greater in nontreated compared to herbicide-treated plots. Crude protein (CP) concentration and relative feed value (RFV) were higher in nontreated compared with herbicide-treated biomass. Overall, the poorer nutritive values and lower biomass yields in the herbicide-treated compared with the nontreated biomass may be partially explained by the removal of common ragweed, tall ironweed, and legumes with the herbicide treatments. Pure samples of common ragweed and white clover were greater in nutritive values than pure samples of tall fescue at all June harvests. Results indicate that common ragweed offers nutritive values equivalent to or greater than tall fescue and white clover when harvested in June at the vegetative stage of growth and that the removal of common ragweed and tall ironweed with herbicide applications is not likely to improve forage nutritive values of the total harvested biomass of tall fescue pastures, at least by the season after treatment.
Nomenclature: Aminopyralid; 2,4-D, dimethylamine salt of 2,4-D; dicamba; metsulfuron; picloram; common ragweed, Ambrosia artemisiifolia L., AMBEL; tall ironweed, Vernonia gigantea (Walt.) Trel, VENAL; tall fescue, Lolium arundinaceum (Schreb.) S.J. Darbyshire, FESAR.