Sicklepod – Pasture Weed
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Sicklepod is a semi-woody annual legume from the pea family. It ranges in height from 1 to 6 ft tall and off of the main stem are leaves made up of egg-like shaped leaflets in sets of 4 to 6. The leaflets closest to the main stem will be the smallest in size and will increase as they get further from the main stem. While sicklepod is considered a legume, it does not fix nitrogen. Coffee senna is a similar-looking plant that could be confused with sicklepod. Look at the end of the leaves – if you see a rounded end, it is sicklepod- if pointed, it’s coffee senna.
All parts of the plant at all stages of growth are toxic to livestock, whether the sicklepod is green or dry. Toxicity concerns revolve around amount of consumption, so it is always important to make sure animals have enough desirable forages to eat.
Sicklepod has been shown to respond well to herbicide applications when young, small, and tender. Be sure to read the label in full of any product you choose to use. Mowing may increase spread of seed. Research in Tennessee indicates that sicklepod can lose some of its competitive edge when shaded out by other plants, which in a pasture or hayfield would be desirable grasses or forages.
When thinking about growing the most competitive forage you can to help with weed control- ask yourself these questions to start:
- Have you taken a soil sample in the last three years?
- If you have taken a soil sample recently, did you apply lime and fertilizer per those recommendations?
- What measures do you take to ensure that your pasture is not overgrazed?
- What is your stocking rate? (# of animals per acre)
- Do you rotate pastures?
- How short is your grass when you rotate?
These questions are a great starting point for re-evaluating your management plan for your pastures. Reach out to your local extension agent to continue this conversation.