Questions on: Foxtail

Ron Smith, Horticulturist, NDSU Extension Service

Q: I need help with fox weed in my lawn. I can't find any products other than Roundup, which leaves dead grass. I have asked at many chemical places, but they have no other suggestions. Please help! (Adams, N.D.)

A: I believe the weed you are referencing is green or yellow foxtail. These are annuals that are best controlled by using pre-emergent herbicides. Some success on seedlings less than two weeks old has been reported by the USDA using typical vinegar purchased from stores, which is 5 percent acetic acid. Standard herbicides that are used include Dacthal, Balan or Pendimathaline. Try to thicken your lawn with timely fertilization and mowing to keep weeds from germinating.

Q: I have 40 acres along the Des Lacs River. We have a weed we have called foxtail, but it does not have a cone shape. This weed has a fan-shaped head while maturing and then becomes a wide, spread-out head that is a danger to animals, especially dogs, because they may inhale the fine shafts. Is this a type of foxtail? What is the best herbicide to kill this weed and what application timing is best? (Burlington, N.D.)

A: I think what you are describing is barley foxtail. Go to for my publication on weed control. Foxtail is included in the publication. Pre-emergent materials commonly found on the market are the best means of control, which needs to take place in the early spring.

Q: Is there a pre-emergent herbicide that is safe for horses that I can use to eliminate yellow foxtail on a pasture? (e-mail reference)

A: There are dozens of pre-emergent herbicides that control yellow foxtail, but I am not an authority on pasture grass safety and herbicide use. I suggest checking with a veterinarian in your state or the state Extension veterinarian.

Q: Some kind of grass or weed is in my lawn--here and there, not all over. What chemical will kill it and not the lawn? (Napoleon, N.D.)

A: The weed is foxtail, and it can be controlled with a pre-emergence herbicide containing pendimethalin next spring.

Q: Can you tell me what products contain Dacthal, Betasan and Tupersan? I am looking for these to treat foxtail next spring. When is the best time to fertilize my lawn in the fall? I also would like to know why my onions didn't get very big this year and were soft? I have also enclosed a weed I would like identified. (Winner, S.D.)

A: The weed is broadleaf plantain. This, and other broadleaves, can be controlled with 2, 4-D type products, such as Weed-B-Gone, Trimex etc.

You likely had the wrong cultivar of onion. In our climatic region, select only long-day types. Sweet onions are the Spanish or Walla-Walla types. Sweet pickling types are `Silver Queen' and `White Portugal.' Onions need full sun, well-drained soil and ample moisture. The best onions I've ever seen (and tasted) came from a grower near Williston, ND.

The best time to fertilize the lawn is in the fall, with a slow-release material. You can still do it, as long as the soil isn't frozen.

Tupersan is sold as "Crabgrass Preventer and Weed Killer" by Bonide. Betasan can be sold as is or under the name Bensulide, by Green Light; and Dacthal is sold as DCPA by many companies.

Q: Enclosed is a sample of a weed that seems to be taking over the neighborhood. Can you tell me what kind of weed it is and tell me how to control it? (Fargo, N.D.)

A: This is a good sample of yellow foxtail. It is an annual weed that is easily controlled with pre-emergent herbicides like Dacthal, Betasan, pendimethalin, or Tupersan.

Apply one of these next spring as the lilacs in your area are starting to bloom.

Q. I read your garden tips every week and find them very interesting and helpful. I have never seen a question about pigeon grass. It is growing in our lawn and I would like   to know what to do to get rid of it or control it.  Redfield, S.D.)

A. Pigeon grass is a regional name given to green and yellow foxtail. It is a bunch-type annual that sets seed in late summer, and is generally only a lawn pest when the turf  is getting initially established from seed, or when the turf has become thin from low nutrition, excessive wear or extended drought.

It is easily controlled with preemergence herbicides in the early spring. Dacthal (DCPA), Pendimethalin (PREM), and Siduron (Tupersan) are three examples. Also, keep your lawn vigorous through regular fertilization, mowing and irrigation.

Q: Is there a pre-emergence weedkiller I can use for broadleaf weeds and also pigeon grass where I will be planting sweet corn? Also, I have wood chips from ash
and boxelder trees. Can these chips be used as mulch for tomato, cabbage, etc? (Wahpeton, N.D.)

A: You have several weed-control choices, with Frontier 6EC being the best bet. And yes, you may use the wood chips as a mulch.

Back to Weed Menu
Back to the Hortiscope Table of Contents