As the family story goes, when Austin and Dunkin Allred’s grandfather learned of Dunkin’s birth, he was in a pasture hand-treating Cherokee rose.
Fast forward 28 years and now the brothers, along with Jamie Horton, manage the pastures and cropland of Dunkin Farms near Marion Junction, Alabama. And they’re still fighting Cherokee rose.
They also battle blackberry and various broadleaf weeds in pastures. But the technology has improved, and they’re making progress. They’re seeing it in more forage.
“Since we started spraying, we have more hay left. Even [in 2016], a drought year, we had a lot of hay left over. And we haven’t changed anything else we do or reduced cow numbers any,” Austin says.
“We’ve actually increased cow numbers,” Dunkin says. “Without weed control, we might be able to run as many cows as we do, but they wouldn’t be in good shape.”
Keeping up with weed and brush control reduces competition for forage and makes brushy pastures easier to manage.
“This allows us to go into the winter with more grass and healthier cattle,” Austin says.
The brothers now believe they can expand on the acres they have.
The family started spraying pastures about 10 years ago after years of mowing (shredding, bush hogging). They first used 2,4-D, then Grazon® P+D herbicide and more recently GrazonNext® HL herbicide. The brothers add PastureGard® HL herbicide to the tank when they target brush. They look to Central Farmers Agronomy in Selma, Alabama, for herbicide and prescriptions.
Initially, the family had their fescue-dallisgrass pastures custom-sprayed. For the last five years, though, the brothers have used their own sprayer.
“We can spray 200 acres in the time it took to bush hog 20, and that’s if nothing breaks down on the Bush Hog,” Austin says. “Spraying is much more economical, and it is actually solving the problem.”
For broadleaf weeds alone, the brothers use GrazonNext HL at 1.5 pints per acre. With the soil residual activity from the herbicide and the resulting grass response, pastures typically stay clean into the fall.
In 2017, they sprayed hayfields for the first time to control weeds — especially pigweed — and improve the quantity and quality of hay harvested.
“We had a good first cutting of hay,” Dunkin says. “We used to consider that first cutting to be just cleanup.”
The brothers usually spray pastures in June, targeting perennial broadleaf weeds such as blue vervain, horsenettle and ironweed, and woody plants like blackberry, dewberry and Cherokee rose.
Where they have a significant population of blackberry, dewberry or Cherokee rose, the brothers have added PastureGard HL at the rate of 10 ounces per acre.
“The main reason for PastureGard (HL) was the berry vines,” Dunkin says. “And it really took a couple years of spraying to clean them up.”
Especially for dense blackberry or blackberry that’s been shredded, experts from Corteva Agriscience™ typically recommend an initial spraying and a second-year followup application for full control.
On Cherokee rose, GrazonNext HL alone will suppress the brush, but adding PastureGard HL to the tank mix controls it, Austin says.
“You can tell when you put PastureGard (HL) with it. It really does help,” he says. “We get up to 85 percent of them.”
The brothers say their family has always been conservative in their stocking, typically allowing 5 to 6 acres per cow. Cows may be bigger now than in their grandfather’s day, but the young men are thinking they’re understocked, given their increases in forage. Expansion seems possible on what they have.
“We feel like we can run more cows on the same acres, now that we’ve incorporate a good spraying program,” Dunkin says.
Label precautions apply to forage treated with GrazonNext HL and to manure from animals that have consumed treated forage within the last three days. Consult the label for full details.
™®Trademarks of Dow AgroSciences, DuPont or Pioneer, and their affiliated companies or their respective owners. Grazon P+D is a federally Restricted Use Pesticide. GrazonNext HL is not registered for sale or use in all states. Contact your state pesticide regulatory agency to determine if a product is registered for sale or use in your state. Always read and follow label directions.