Buttercup Control in Pastures

— Written By N.C. Cooperative Extension

Buttercups are a problem in cool-season grass pastures, and are easily recognized in early spring by their bright yellow flowers. Buttercups possess several weedy characteristics that make it difficult to control in pastures. Populations are usually greater in low areas of fields that tend to remain wet for long periods, and in pastures with poor stands of grass. Overgrazing usually increases the buttercup populations.

There are many species of buttercups, each with different characteristics. The bulbous and small flower buttercups tend to be more common in pastures. Pasture management techniques promoting the growth of pasture grasses will provide competition and inhibit the growth of buttercups. These practices include proper soil fertility and pH, avoidance of overgrazing, timely mowing and herbicide treatments. It is important to treat buttercups with herbicides before flowering, as treatments after flowering require higher rates and will not prevent seed formation. 

2-4-D ester formulations at 1-2 quarts/acre provided 100% control with November applications, in one University of Kentucky study, so costs can be kept to a minimum if properly timed. Weedmaster at 3 pints/acre also provided 100% control, as did Crossbow at 2-3 quarts/acre. With perennial weeds such as buttercups, there are many factors involved with herbicide control because of species variety, so control may involve several seasons.

Damon Pollard
Extension Agent