Removing Ragwort at the Rosette Stage

Once you've identified common ragwort in an area where it needs to be controlled, you'll need to remove it safely to prevent further spread.

Ragwort is biennial and its seeds lie dormant within the ground. This means removal methods may have to be used annually until the weed is brought under control. A combination of different removal methods may be needed, along with good pasture management.

It’s vital that dead ragwort is removed from the field - once it has wilted and dried it becomes more palatable to horses but is still just as toxic. It’s advisable to wear gloves when handling the plants.

Ragwort removal with herbicide sprayOption: Herbicide Treatment

  • Animals must be moved to alternative grazing before the herbicide is applied to the land.
  • A risk assessment must be completed.
  • Approved products are listed on the Pesticide Safety Directorate at pesticides.gov.uk. Local agrochemical companies can also help.
  • Some products require a qualified specialist to carry out the application. Details are available from the National Association of Agricultural Contractors at naac.co.uk.
  • The herbicide should be applied when rosette growth is seen in spring.
  • Apply the herbicide on a mild, calm day, ensuring the vegetation is dry and that rain is not expected for at least a few hours.
  • It’s only safe to return horses once all the ragwort has fully disintegrated. This can take a few weeks, so follow the product specific guidelines carefully. Remember that dead ragwort is still toxic and palatable.

Option: Mowing/Cutting

  • Not advised as cutting stimulates growth.
  • Unlikely to have any impact on controlling the spread of ragwort.

Pasture ManagementOption: Improve Pasture Management

  • Ragwort thrives on poor quality pasture.
  • Rosettes left alone will compete with surrounding plants.
  • Improving the pasture quality will help reduce the opportunity for ragwort to grow.
  • Poor pasture with little grass will encourage horses to eat ragwort.
  • See BHS advice on Pasture Management (pdf).

Option: Hand Pulling

  •  Appropriate for smaller areas of land.
  • Make sure the whole of the root is removed, as any fragments of the root left within the soil will result in the ragwort regrowing.
  • Best results are achieved when the soil is damp.
  • Ragwort-specific hand tools are available to help with successful root removal.

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