Plantain – Weed ID Wednesday
Plantain can be found across pastures, hayfields, yards, and even turf. You may recognize it from it’s long stem and seed head that are easily turned into a rocket launcher! While it does not pose a risk to livestock if consumed, it does compete with forages that would provide more nutritional value to our animals. Depending on the type of plantain, leaves can be both narrow and wide. They cast a decent sized shadow around them, which does not encourage growth of other plants.
Plantain’s growth habits make it more difficult to control. It grows in a rosette form, leaving it close to the ground. It also has a long tap root that helps it be more drought tolerant. Because of these characteristics, plantain is not effectively controlled by hand pulling, close grazing, or even persistent mowing. Plantain can be effectively controlled with an appropriately labelled herbicide. Be sure to read the label in full of any product you plan on using.
If there is a heavy presence of plantain in your pastures, it may be time to look at your management plan. Plantain can thrive in environments that grass may not enjoy as much, such as lower fertility levels and/or pH levels. An easy way to double-check what you have going on in your pastures is a soil sample and should be done at least every 3 years. The report from a soil sample will include a soil pH reading and nutrient indexes, which is turned into lime and fertilizer recommendations. If you have not taken one before, contact your local extension agent for more information.