Richard L. Duble, Turfgrass Specialist
Texas Cooperative Extension
Text and images copyright © Richard Duble.

Goosegrass (Eleusine indica) is a troublesome weed in turfgrasses throughout the South. It is most frequently found in high traffic areas where the turfgrass cover is thin. Athletic fields and golf courses are prime sites for an infestation of goosegrass. The name "goosegrass" is commonly used for this species, but it is also called silver crabgrass, crowfoot or wiregrass.

Description. Goosegrass, a warm season annual grass, develops in leafy, commonly reclining, tufts. Goosegrass is a prolific seeder and, in most cases, has three to seven fingerlike racemes on a single stem. Often, 15 to 20 stems are produced by a mature plant and as many as 50,000 seed can be produced by a single plant. Once goosegrass becomes established, annual reinfestations are likely to occur.

Goosegrass has a strong, extensive root system and readily invades hard, compacted soils found in high traffic areas. It adapts well to close, frequent mowing and even produces seed when mowed at putting green heights.

Mature leaf blades of goosegrass are extremely difficult to cut with a mower. Often the leaf blades are frayed by the mower and the tips develop a whitish cast. Mower blades must be kept sharp to maintain a satisfactory cut on goosegrass infested turf.

Goosegrass emergence from seed begins as early as March in Florida and South Texas and as late as June in the northern portions of the South. Emergence continues throughout the summer months. Plants are usually killed by the first frost in the fall.

Control. Cultural practices that promote vigorous turf and maintain a complete grass cover will keep goosegrass populations to a minimum. But where the grass cover is weakened by traffic or by competition with overseeded grasses, goosegrass emerges in the spring and summer.

Preemerge herbicides such as Barricade, Ronstar, Surflan, Pre-M, Devrinol and Balan will control goosegrass in warm season grasses. The rate and timing of application(s) is critical to effective goosegrass control. A single application of Ronstar at 3 pounds active per acre several weeks prior to the expected emergence date will provide season-long control of goosegrass. Other products may require split applications for season-long control.

In bermudagrass turf, goosegrass can be controlled postemerge with repeated applications of MSMA at 2 to 3 pounds active per acre at 10-14 day intervals. Sencor is also labeled for goosegrass control in common bermudagrass fairways and commercial sod farms. Illoxan is a restricted use product for postemergence goosegrass control in bermudagrass presently approved in Florida, Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi and Texas. Illozan is labelled for use on golf courses only.