Crop & Pest Report


| Share

Foxtail Barley Control (07/07/16)

Question: Can you help me plan the correct time and method to control the foxtail barley that has invaded our pastures.

Foxtail Barley Control

Question: Can you help me plan the correct time and method to control the foxtail barley that has invaded our pastures. It has migrated from neighboring acreage and because the farmers that own those acres aren't doing enough to control it, it has become our problem and with each passing year it has becomes more and more serious. In the past, I've walked one pasture and sprayed each individual plant with glyphosate, but this year we have so much that I can't possibly do that. I've been advised that Plateau® is the best chemical for controlling it in pastures. My question is, now that foxtail barley has begun to produce seeds do we have to wait until next spring to apply Plateau®? Is there nothing other than glyphosate that can be used at this time of year? Thank you for any help you can give us.

Answer: Foxtail barley continues to grow each year because many do nothing to control it. Management is difficult in untilled and undisturbed areas.

  • Foxtail barley is a perennial bunchgrass, thrives where reduced tillage or no-till is practiced, is native to North America, is found in wet areas, and is tolerant of saline/alkaline soils.
  • Foxtail barley can germinate in the fall or spring. Fall-germinating plants resume growth early in the spring and have a competitive advantage over spring-seeded crops if not controlled through tillage or chemical control (EPP or PRE).
  • Foxtail barley seeds are primarily spread by wind or can attach to birds or animals for distant distribution.

Foxtail barley grows 1-2 feet tall and forms a pale green, bushy spike. Leaves are soft to the touch due to very short, but dense hairs which appear a bluish-green or grayish-green.

  • Foxtail barley is easily controlled with tillage because it has a shallow fibrous root system and does not spread by rootstocks or rhizomes like some other perennial weedy grasses


In 2013, the NDSU Weed Science group chose foxtail barley as Weed of the Year and the information was included in the 2013 ND Weed Control guide.

In summary, glyphosate applied at 1 lb ae/A (40 fl oz/A of the generic 3 lb ae/gal or 27 fl oz/A of the Monsanto 4.5 lb ae/gal formulations) from August to mid-September provided 72-98% foxtail barley control. Earlier applications and rates lower than 1 lb ae/A was less effective. The best and most consistent long-term treatment was glyphosate applied at 1 lb ae/A after foxtail barley seeds had matured.

Dr. Brian Jenks, NDSU Weed Scientist, conducted research on foxtail barley at the North Central Research and Extension Center, Minot, ND. Glyphosate spring-applied alone provided only 35-68% foxtail barley control. The fall glyphosate application was the most important application given that foxtail barley is a perennial grass. A photo showing control is included in the report.

Plateau® is labeled for control of foxtail barley (Hordeum jubatum) in pastures, rangeland, and non-crop areas. The Plateau® label (page 14) identifies foxtail barley as Squirrel Tail Barley (Hordeum jubatum). The label recommends 8 to 12 fl oz/A applied in the spring to vegetative and actively growing foxtail barley. Add MSO type adjuvant at 1% v/v for increased herbicide enhancement.

Rich Zollinger

Extension Weed Specialist


This site is supported in part by the Crop Protection and Pest Management Program [grant no. 2017-70006-27144/accession 1013592] from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed are those of the website author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

USDA logo

Creative Commons License
Feel free to use and share this content, but please do so under the conditions of our Creative Commons license and our Rules for Use. Thanks.