Spring Management of Multiflora Rose

June 1, 2023 3:02 PM
Blog Post

With the steady growth and production of pasture forages across the state comes the steady appearance and growth of the nuisance pasture weed, multiflora rose (MFR). Due to its unpalatability, most grazing species will not consume MFR, allowing it to continue growing throughout the season and outcompete other forage species and remain persistent.

Multiflora rose bush

MFR is a perennial weed with the capability to reproduce by seed or rooting from the canes of the plant that touch the ground. Plants can grow to be 5 – 10’ tall and form thickets. Flowers can begin to be seen by the beginning of June and are white in color and approximately 1/2 – 3/4” wide. For more on identification, check out this resource.

As MFR begins to bloom over the next few weeks, it becomes a good target for effective weed control. Available control methods include biological, mechanical, and chemical options. Several opportunities exist  during the year to control MFR. One of the most effective methods is with a basal bark herbicide treatment during the late fall or early winter. The following growth chart shows when key developmental stages for MFR occur as well as when foliar herbicide and basal bark or cut stem treatments are most effective.

Biological Control: The use of goats to graze on MFR is the most effective biological option. Goats easily feed on this weed species and will eat the plant tissues. For this method to be effective, the goats need to be left in the pasture long enough to eat the plants to the ground and the plant uses all of its root reserves, resulting in plant death.

Chemical Control:  Herbicide applications can be highly effective when an MFR plant is in early to mid-flower stage. There are many herbicide options that can be considered. The following table, sourced here from an ICM News article by ISU Field Agronomist Meaghan Anderson, lists some of the more common herbicide options when looking to control MFR:


Herbicide Group Numbers

Example Products

Rate for Spot Treatments



Dicamba 4 Banvel, Clarity 1% solution Yes  
Glyphosate 9 Roundup, many others 1% solution Yes (spot treatment)

Will kill pasture grasses

Imazapyr 2 Arsenal, Stalker, Habitat 0.5-1% solution Yes Less selective than Group 4 products
Triclopyr + 2,4-D 4 Crossbow, Chaser 1-1.5% solution Yes  
Metsulfuron 2 Escort XP 0.02 oz a.i./gal (spot treatment) Yes Pasture grass tolerance may vary
Metsulfuron + 2,4-D + dicamba 2, 4 Cimarron Max 0.5 oz/acre (herb. part A) + 2 pt/acre (herb. part B) Yes  
Picloram 4 Tordon 22K, component of Grazon P+D Check product label Yes  
Aminopyralid + 2,4-D 4 GrazonNext 2.1 pt/acre +0.25% v/v NIS Yes  

When choosing to apply a herbicide, whether it be a broadcast or spot application, it is important to read through the label and apply the product according to label directions.

Mechanical Control: Digging up individual MFR plants can be successful as long as the entirety of the root system and canes are pulled. Any root system left behind that is viable will result in regrowth. Mowing is a viable option as well. A single mowing application may be able to restrict the overall growth of the plant but rarely kills the plant. Multiple mowing passes are needed to fully terminate a MFR plant.

For large infestations, a summer mowing followed by a fall herbicide application can be quite effective in reducing large populations.

Management of MFR cannot be condensed into one application of a control method. Due to the plant’s reproductive and physical characteristics, multiple control methods will need to be continually used to lower the MFR populations in pasture settings.


Aaron Saeugling Field Agronomist in SW Iowa

Aaron Saeugling is a field agronomist in southwest Iowa for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.