Earlier this summer, I was called out several times to identify a small foxtail-like plant. I found that most cases that I saw turned out to be little barley and the best thing to do at that time was wait until closer to fall when the plant is more vulnerable and can be controlled easier. Now is the time to start planning a healthier lawn for spring and controlling winter annual plants such as little barley is important. I found this short article from K-State Research and Extension’s Horticulture specialist Ward Upham to share with you this week about how to control little barley in your lawn. I hope this helps all of you that had trouble with it this year.
Little Barley in Lawns
Many people mistake little barley (Hordeum pusillum) for a little foxtail because the foxtail and little barley seedheads are similar. However, little barley is a winter annual that comes up in late September - October and spends the winter as a small plant. It thrives in the cooler spring temperatures, forms seed heads and dies out usually by July. Foxtail, on the other hand, is a summer annual that does well in hot weather. Also, foxtail will not produce seedheads until mid- to late-summer. So why are we talking about little barley now? Because now is the time to control it for next year. The best control for little barley is a thick lawn that is mowed high enough that sunlight does not hit the soil. Little barley seed will not germinate in such conditions. Overseeding now can thicken up a tall fescue lawn and prevent a little barley infestation. However, if you do not plan to overseed, preemergence herbicides can be used to provide at least partial control of this weed. The only preemergence herbicide that I know is labeled specifically for little barley is Surflan. It is also sold under the name of Weed Impede by Monterey Lawn and Garden. Surflan can only be used on warm-season grasses (bermudagrass, buffalograss, zoysiagrass) and tall fescue grown in warm-season areas such as Kansas. However, Dimension (dithiopyr), is labeled for barley (Herodium spp.) which would include little barley and therefore can be used to keep this weed under control. Because little barley is a winter annual, apply the preemergence herbicide in September and water in to activate. If overseeding, do not apply any preemergence herbicide as it will interfere with the germination of tall fescue. (Ward Upham)
On a side note, there will be a Beef Stocker Field day in Manhattan on Sep. 26th. Preregistration is $25 and due by the 15th. At the door, cost will be $35 per person. For more information, contact me, or go to www.ksubeef.org.
Alicia Boor is the Agriculture and Natural Resources agent for Barton County K-State Research and Extension. You can contact her by e-mail at email@example.com or calling 620-793-1910