Bracken Control

About Bracken Control

Bracken (Pteridium aquilinum) is a native British fern commonly found in woodland and heath land. It is tolerant of a wide range of soils and climates and has an extensive underground network of two rhizome types which makes control difficult.

Is it harmful?

Fronds are poisonous to cattle and horses and harbour disease-carrying ticks and carry carcinogenic spores, however sheep and cattle normally avoid it.

Thick infestations of bracken can shade out all other plants

The fronds are most toxic at the newly emerged or crozier stage. The fronds become less toxic with age but it is important that bracken cut for animal bedding should have died back entirely. The rhizomes are also poisonous and are a potential hazard to pigs that may uproot them and to cattle when ploughing exposes the rhizomes. Bracken is considered a human health hazard due to the carcinogenic spores. It also provides a habitat favoured by sheep ticks which transmit Lymes disease.

How to Control Bracken

Effective chemical treatment of bracken can achieve a 98% control level. Failures often result from poor follow up treatments and failure of the native vegetation to recover.

Treating bracken witAsulox

The specialist choice for bracken control is Asulox, which is a selective weedkiller meaning it will control the bracken without killing surrounding grass. For agricultural, forestry and amenity use, the selective weed killer Asulox is best used when the bracken is at waist height or just below. Treat with via a knapsack sprayer when the fronds (leaves) are at full extension and use the wetter Warrior. This reduces the surface tension of any water on the leaf allowing the Asulox to work effectively. 

Contact us for more information on the availability of ASULOX

Follow up treatments:
Owing to the nature of bracken growth and the difficulty of spraying sheltered or uneven terrain, 100% bracken control is rarely achieved. Any bracken surviving should be sprayed as soon as it recovers to full green frond. This may be the year following the initial application but more likely the second year following initial application. If a programme of follow-up sprays is undertaken the bracken-free period will be greatly extended.
If no follow-up treatment or land improvement programme is carried out, re-spraying may be necessary within 5 years

Please speak to a Progreen Technical Advisor for information on how to control Bracken on 0800 032 6262 or email us

Treating bracken with Roundup

There are several methods of application depending on circumstances. These include, application using a knapsack sprayer, a tractor-mounted or handheld Weedwiper and a tractor or ATV mounted boom sprayer. Both Roundup Proactive 360 & Roundup Provantage have full approvals for these uses.

Application rates of Roundup Proactive 360 are 5 L/ha or 25 ml/L water and equivalent rates of Roundup Provantage are 3.75 L/ha or 19 ml/L water.

Timings for control of Bracken are similar to Asulox – with spraying recommended as fronds approach full size and are fully unfurled in July/August, but before tip die-back. This window normally closes at the end of September depending on locality, altitude and season.

Treated fronds will die back within four weeks of treatment; future re-treatment may be needed. It is important that livestock are excluded from the treated area until bracken foliage has completely died back.

PG TopTip – Using a blue marker dye can help you to see where you have been when controlling large areas of bracken

Treating bracken with Tordon 22K

Tordon 22k was a selective, residual herbicide containing picloram designed to control a wide range of perennial and annual broad-leaved weeds as well as bracken and brambles.  Unfortunately Tordon 22k was removed from sale in 30th June 2014 and can only be used until 30th June 2015.

It is now recommended to use Asulox (formerly known as Asulam) to control Bracken.

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