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Winter cleaning summary

  • Winter cleaning is a herbicide application technique to remove or ‘clean’ annual grasses, mainly silver grass, from established mixed grass/sub-clover pastures.
  • The process of winter cleaning relies on a chemical (simazine) being absorbed through the roots when plants are actively growing.
  • The effect of winter cleaning is increased by applying a second herbicide (paraquat) which damages the leaves.
  • Removal or suppression of the annual grasses creates bare ground for more desirable pasture species to populate.
  • Winter cleaning is highly effective on Vulpia species, such as silver grass, rat-tail fescue, sand fescue and squirrel-tail fescue. It will also suppress barley grass and soft brome grass.
  • The loss of pasture production after spraying is arguably the greatest downside to winter cleaning. Therefore, applying the treatment in years of adequate or abundant pasture growth will lessen the short-term negative effects. Other approaches include only treating one or two paddocks a year.
  • Another major consideration prior to winter cleaning pastures is to ensure there are sufficient desirable plants to fill the gaps. This may be hard to achieve if the desirable grass or sub-clover content is low before treatment or if other competitive weeds, such as capeweed or erodium, are also present.
  • The herbicide label provides all the critical comments and precautions for the safe and responsible use of this technique. Always read the label and only use as directed.

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