It's THAT time of the year. Who has buttercups? Ew..I HATE them, although they WERE fun as a kid. I know MOST horses won't eat them, but Stewie WILL and it was a colossal pain in the a$$ to remove them last year. (in an environmentally safe way, instead of spraying we dug them out. It took about 15,000 years, or at least that's what it felt like)
Here's the info from our closest equine authority, Rutgers:
There are many species of buttercups found in New Jersey. Some species prefer wet conditions, other survive in dry pastures. Buttercups are perennial plants that over-winter as corms and reproduce by seed. They are very common in the state and are found in virtually all pasture situations. They thrive in low fertility soils and in overgrazed pastures.
Buttercups can be toxic to livestock, but are extremely unpalatable. Animals that are healthy, well-fed, and have access to plenty of pasture or hay rarely consume buttercups or other toxic plants. The fresh leaves and flowers of all buttercup species are toxic when consumed fresh, but the plants lose their toxic properties when dried in hay. If the plant is consumed, horses will exhibit signs of severe gastritis, marked by increased salivation, decreased appetite, colic and diarrhea. In severe cases, poisoning may lead to convulsions and death.
The best defense against buttercups, and all weeds for that matter, is to maintain a healthy stand of forage grasses. Cool season grasses such as bluegrass, perennial rye, orchardgrass, brome and timothy grow rapidly in spring. Fertilizing grasses and rotating pastures to encourage the grasses to remain thick and healthy allows them to out-compete weeds by preventing bare spots and shading the ground. Thick pasture grasses allow little room for the establishment of weed seedlings. Frequent mowing will also reduce buttercup seed production.
Since buttercups are perennials, once they are heavily established in a pasture, it may be necessary to use an herbicide to remove them. It may take several herbicide applications to reduce the population of buttercups. You may want to contact a local crop production service representative or hire a commercial applicator to apply herbicides. Turf type "weed and feed" products are not labeled for use on pastures.
Fortunately, Ally/Cimarron is a very safe and effective herbicide for controlling buttercups. Ally is a liquid, soil-applied herbicide that moves into the plant through the root system. Ally can be applied in spring or early summer at the rate of .1 to .3 oz per acre. There is no grazing restriction for Ally and horses can be returned to the pastures immediately. It is also possible to tank-mix Ally with liquid fertilizers in spring. Ally should only be applied to grasses that have been established for at least 6 months. For timothy, at least 12 months is desirable and tall fescue should be established for at least 24 months. Ally is very persistent in the soil, therefore crop rotation guidelines must be adhered to. Ally should not be used if you plan to overseed the pastures, since the herbicide will remove new grass seedlings as well as the weeds.
A combination of 2,4-D and Banvel can also be used to reduce buttercup populations. These products are also applied as a liquid but translocate through the plant to the roots. The best time to kill buttercups with this herbicide combination is in spring, before flowering, or in late summer, when the plants are moving food from the leaves to the roots. Grasses should be well established before applying 2,4-D/Banvel, but pastures can generally be overseeded 4-6 weeks after an application of these products. There is a seven day grazing restriction for certain formulations of 2,4-D and different manufacturer's products may have various grazing restrictions. Always carefully read the label before using any pesticide.
Remember that Ally and 2,4-D/Banvel are broadleaf herbicides that will also eliminate existing clover plants in pastures.
For assistance in identifying and controlling weeds in pastures, contact your local Cooperative Extension Office. Use pesticides only when necessary at the correct rate and time. Read the complete label and follow all precautions listed. Where trade names appear, no discrimination is intended and no endorsement is implied.
I don't drink coffee sir. I don't drink any hot liquids. That's the devil's temperature.