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Johnsongrass (Sorghum halepense) is not a common weed in turf situations. It is frequently found on roadsides, but is also found in pastures and disturbed fields. It does not grow well in frequent, close mowing situations. As an adult plant, johnsongrass is characterized by its dense growth habit, with stems that can reach 6 feet in height. The leaf blades are rough, and the prominent white raised midveins that run the length of the leaf are distinctive. The seedhead is purple.

Cultural Control

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Perennial grass weeds are not desirable as turfgrass species under any conditions. Therefore, every effort should be made to prevent these weedy grasses from becoming established in turf, as selective control measures are usually difficult. Selection of adapted turfgrass species and cultivars and the use of cultural practices are important in minimizing weedy grass encroachment and competition. Management practices include: (1) mowing at the recommended height for the selected turfgrass and removing clippings when seedheads of grassy weeds are present; (2) applying the proper amount of nitrogen at the correct time according to the turfgrass present; and (3) using soil tests to determine needed nutrients and lime.

Species Data

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Johnsongrass seedhead

Figure 1. Johnsongrass seedhead.

Johnsongrass seedhead

Figure 2. Johnsongrass seedhead.

Johnsongrass seedhead

Figure 3. Johnsongrass seedhead.

Johnsongrass vernation

Figure 4. Johnsongrass vernation.

Johnsongrass vernation

Figure 5. Johnsongrass vernation.

Johnsongrass auricle

Figure 6. Johnsongrass auricle.

Johnsongrass auricle

Figure 7. Johnsongrass auricle.

Johnsongrass auricle

Figure 8. Johnsongrass auricle.

Johnsongrass auricle

Figure 9. Johnsongrass auricle.

Johnsongrass leaf blade tip

Figure 10. Johnsongrass leaf blade tip.

Johnsongrass leaf blade width

Figure 11. Johnsongrass leaf blade width.

Johnsongrass collar type

Figure 12. Johnsongrass collar type.

Johnsongrass collar type

Figure 13. Johnsongrass collar type.

Johnsongrass sheath margin

Figure 14. Johnsongrass sheath margin.


Extension Specialist (Turfgrass/Forage Crop Weed Mgt)
Crop & Soil Sciences

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Publication date: Nov. 7, 2017

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