Contact your local extension specialist or county weed specialist for assistance on recommendations for cheatgrass control in your area. Tillage and chemicals are the most common control methods. When using chemicals, it is important to always read and follow label and safety instructions. Trade names and control measures that appear in this document are only to provide specific information. USDA, NRCS does not guarantee or warranty the products and control methods named, and other products may be equally effective.
Environmental and Mechanical: Environmental practices, which minimize the further spread of cheatgrass, are suggested by knowledge of the circumstances, which have accompanied its spread. Vehicles, clothing, camp gear, and pets should be cleaned of adhering seed after driving, camping, and walking in cheatgrass-infested areas. Excessive roadside and rangeland disturbance should be avoided. In cultivated fields, mowing cheatgrass before seeds are formed and clean cultivation assist in control. Infested meadows and pastures can be harrowed while seedlings are small (Muenscher 1955). In cropland and hayland, the best control is often achieved by fallowing or planting continuous spring crops for two or more years (Kennedy et al. 1989).
Biological: Soil bacteria which cause crown rot may be a potential biological control for cheatgrass in the arid environment of western North America (Grey et al. 1995). The crown rot causing soil bacteria has been found to produce a toxin that is specific for cheatgrass and related species. Studies have shown that these bacteria can be used to suppress the growth of cheatgrass, thus resulting in substantial increases in winter wheat yields (Kennedy et al. 1989).
Applications of a strain (D7) of Rhizobacterium have been shown to selectively suppress cheatgrass in winter wheat test plots by means of a phytotoxin produced by the bacteria (Tranel et al. 1993), apparently by inhibition of root elongation.
Chemical: Non-selective herbicides are presently the primary chemical available for control of cheatgrass. Since non-selective herbicides can kill all vegetation they contact, not just the problem weed, care must be taken that they do not contact desirable plants.
The chemical fluazifop has been shown to prevent seed formation in cheatgrass, most successfully when applied early in the reproductive phase (Richardson et al. 1987. Metribuzin or Metribuzin plus terbutryn, fall-applied, have succeeded in reducing cheatgrass infestations and increasing wheat yields. The combination results in better control. Sulfonylurea herbicides have been shown to increase winter wheat yields when used for cheatgrass control.
Other herbicides that have been recommended for cheatgrass management include glyphosate, bromacil, imidazolinone and tebuthiuron.
Formulations containing glyphosate are marketed as JURY, RATTLER, ROUNDUP, and RODEO. Those containing bromacil are sold as HYVAR X and HYVAR X-L. Those containing imidazolinone are sold as Plateau. Tebuthiuron is sold as SPIKE 80W.
Glyphosate controls cheatgrass by inhibition of biosynthesis of amino acids. It is applied to above ground parts, since the active ingredient is adsorbed and made inactive by soil particles. Following absorption, glyphosate is translocated to underground structures and should thus be applied during active growth. Growth is inhibited soon after application, and foliar chlorosis and necrosis are seen within 10-20 days. Contact with formulations of glyphosate should be avoided. Ingestion requires emergency medical attention.
Bromacil inhibits photosynthesis. It is readily absorbed through the root system and is then translocated to foliage. It is applied as a spray just before or during the period of active growth, preferably when rain can be expected for soil activation. Application near desirable plants or grazing of cattle in treated areas should be avoided. After the herbicide has been carried into the root zone by rain, leaf chlorosis and defoliation occur within a week. Contact with bromacil may irritate eyes, nose, throat, and skin. In case of contact, flush eyes copiously with water and wash skin with soap and water. Get medical attention if irritation persists.
Tebuthiuron is a pre- and post-emergence herbicide used for total control of vegetation. A small amount of the herbicide in contact with roots of desirable plants may kill them. It produces browning of vegetation within one week, which suggests that it acts through photosynthesis inhibition. It is absorbed principally through the roots, and is readily translocated. For best results it should be applied before spring growth begins. At least one inch of rainfall is needed to activate the herbicide and place it in the seed germination zone, so it should be applied before the predominant portion of annual rainfall occurs. It may not be fully effective on clay soils or those high in organic matter. Tebuthiuron should not contact skin, clothing, or eyes (causes eye irritation). If it gets on skin or in eyes, wash with plenty of water; if swallowed, or if breathing difficulty develops from inhalation, get emergency medical attention.
Imidazolinone, sold as Plateau is a pre- and post-emergence herbicide used for partial to total control of vegetation. Plateau herbicide may be used for control of brome grass species and tall fescue. It can be used for the release of most other wheatgrasses, native grasses, wildflowers and certain legumes. It is readily absorbed through leaves, stems, and roots and is translocated rapidly throughout the plant, with accumulation in the meristematic regions. Treated plants stop growing soon after spray application. Adequate soil moisture is important for optimum herbicide activity. When adequate soil moisture is present, it will provide residual control of susceptible germinating weeds. Activity on established weeds will depend on the weed species and rooting depth. Post emergence application is the method of choice in most situations, particularly for perennial species. It may be applied in the dormant or growing season for weed control. Tolerance of desirable grass species to Plateau herbicide may be reduced when grasses are stressed due to insect damage, disease, environmental conditions, shade, poorly drained soils or other causes. It should not be applied to newly seeded or sprigged grass stands, unless stated in label.
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