Crabgrass plays dual roles in the forage systems of the southeast. In many cases, it is considered to be a weed when it is causing competition issues in Bahia and Bermuda grass pastures. However, it also has potential as a forage and hay crop. There are two widely recognized species of crabgrass: Hairy or Large Crabgrass (Digitaria sanguinalis) and Smooth Crabgrass (D. ischaemum). Large Crabgrass is the most commonly found species in the Florida Panhandle.
There are five crabgrass species found in Florida; India, blanket, southern, tropical, and smooth. The blanket and India species are perennials, while southern, tropical, and smooth crabgrasses are annuals. Preemergence control methods are the best option, but timing can be challenging due to the variation in life cycles. Postemergence herbicide choice depends on the type of grass or grasses currently present in the area to be treated. Always check labels for application rates and species impacts.
For help identifying weeds or developing a control plan for your operation, please contact your county extension agent.
For more information on this topic please see the following UF/IFAS publication: Weed Management in Pastures