Sweet Vernal Grass
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John Hinz, West Virginia University Weed Specialist
Edward B. Rayburn, Ph. D., West Virginia University, Extension Forage Agronomist

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This is the first in a series of discussions of weed problems that have occurred in West Virginia. I will try to provide a picture of each weed problem, describe where it is found and, list management options to reduce the effect of the particular weed.

Recently, several samples of sweet vernal grass have been sent in for identification. Sweet vernal grass is one of the earliest flowering grasses in West Virginia. Sweet vernal grass grows in pasture areas low in fertility and/or pH. It is the plant that gives hay a sweet smell.

There is no way to use herbicides to remove sweet vernal grass from a pasture. Proper fertility, pH, and grazing management removes this weed from pastures by allowing the more desirable orchardgrass, bluegrass, and clovers to out-compete sweet vernal grass.