WSU Extension


Weeds : Barnyardgrass : Echinochloa crus-galli
(revision date: 11/7/2022)

Family: Poaceae (Graminae)
Cycle: Summer annual
Plant Type: Grass

Use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for successful weed management.

Barnyardgrass grows in clumps up to five feet tall. Leaf blades are smooth, flat, and broad (about 1/2 inch or more) with a pointed tip. The leaf sheaths are smooth to sparsely hairy and may be tinged reddish or purplish. Barnyardgrass leaves are unique among our weedy grasses, in that they have no ligule (neither membranes nor hairs) at the point where the leaf blade joins the leaf sheath. Stems are normally flattened. Seeds are born in panicles that are broadly triangular in outline, with crowded "branches" that are somewhat prickly in appearance. Seedheads may be green to purplish in color.
Barnyardgrass is a widespread weed in cultivated areas including irrigated crops and gardens, along ditch banks, and in waste places. In turf, it is often a problem on borders with low maintenance areas. Barnyardgrass may be a contaminant in bird seed. It is most frequently found in wet spots, earning it another common name of "watergrass".

Management Options

Non-Chemical Management
  • Reduce weed establishment by maintaining a healthy planting or turf area to provide competition.
  • Cultivation (rototilling or hoeing) will effectively eliminate plants.
  • Reduce weed infestation by handpulling weeds.
  • Careful digging is useful to manage weed populations. However, digging can carry undesirable weed seed to the surface and foster further germination.
Select non-chemical management options as your first choice!

Chemical Management

Read the label for application timing of the products listed. Glyphosate products should be applied as spot treatments only! NOTE: Some ingredients listed here are only available in combination. Read the label carefully on combination products to make sure the product is suitable for your specific situation.

Landscape areas
  • oryzalin
  • products containing benefin
  • trifluralin
  • products containing diquat
  • sethoxydim
  • fluazifop
Turf areas
  • products containing benefin
  • benefin, trifluralin
Bare ground areas
  • products containing diquat
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Caption: Barnyardgrass
Photo by: J.A. Kropf
Caption: Barnyardgrass line drawing
Photo by: Ciba Giegy
Caption: Base of barnyardgrass leaf blade: no ligule
Photo by: R. Parker
Caption: Barnyardgrass lower stem
Photo by: J.A. Kropf
Caption: Barnyardgrass panicle
Photo by: T. W. Miller
Caption: Barnyardgrass spikelets
Photo by: T. W. Miller