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The Why & How of Dormant-season Brush Control

Sept. 5, 2023
Dormant-season brush control can enhance the efficacy of Integrated Vegetation Management (IVM) programs. Explore why you should invest in dormant-season brush control and the different ways it can fit into your annual plans.

Dormant season is right around the corner, but there’s no reason to skip any remaining brush treatments. In fact, doing so may cost you more and give incompatible brush species time to grow.

Dormant-season treatments are effective and economical, allowing vegetation managers to address incompatible brush that was left untreated during the foliar season. These applications can be made from fall through the winter and even into spring. 

While the temperatures and growing season wind down, here are three reasons to invest in dormant-season brush control:

1. Save on maintenance costs.

Uncontrolled brush can grow up to 40% each year. When brush starts to boom throughout utility rights-of-way, more time and material are needed to treat what’s now grown into a hard-to-control problem. In fact, field research has shown that delaying routine maintenance by a single growing season can double annual maintenance costs.

Vegetation management programs can use dormant-season treatments to avoid increased costs caused by deferred maintenance and keep crews working to maximize their annual budget.

2. Get treatment flexibility

Dormant-season applications provide the opportunity to expand treatment windows, allowing crews to catch up or get ahead of planned treatment cycles. As a result, vegetation managers can make use of late-season funding.

3. See biodiversity benefits

Applicators can use selective herbicide mixes for dormant-season applications. By selectively controlling problematic brush species, these treatments support the development of early successional habitat that is not only compatible with utility right-of-way corridors but also surrounding wildlife, pollinators and desirable plant species.

Given the opportunity to maximize annual budgets, enhance treatment flexibility and support habitat biodiversity, utility vegetation managers should consider the benefits of the following dormant-season strategies:

  • Dormant-stem treatment
    • Recommended for brush up to 10 feet tall or 2 inches in diameter
    • Apply treatments to the stems and trunks of targeted plants
    • Improve herbicide penetration, enhance coverage and optimize results with the use of basal oils
    • Apply from fall leaf senescence until 25% plant leafout in the spring
    • Popular product recommendation: Tank mix featuring Garlon® 4 Ultra and TerraVue® herbicides from Corteva Agriscience
  • Basal bark treatment
    • Best suited for areas with 500 stems per acre or less
    • Recommended for individual stems no larger than 6 inches in diameter
    • Use a selective herbicide and highly targeted application method to treat the lower 12 to 15 inches of a targeted stem’s base
    • Not to be used where snow or water prevent spraying to the ground line
    • Popular product recommendation: Garlon® 4 Ultra herbicide
  • Basal cut-stump treatment
    • Perfect for treating individually cut woody plants
    • Apply a selective herbicide mixture to the cambium layer and any exposed bark or roots that remain
    • Popular product recommendation: Garlon 4 Ultra herbicide or convenient, ready-to-use Pathfinder® II herbicide.

Individual plant treatments may be used at a maximum use rate of 8 quarts of Garlon 4 Ultra herbicide per acre. Always check the product labels for state registrations, controlled species and recommended use rates.

For more information on label use rates and best practices for dormant-season brush control throughout utility rights-of-way and adjacent land, visit

™ ® Trademarks of Corteva Agriscience and its affiliated companies. Under normal field conditions, TerraVue® is nonvolatile. TerraVue has no grazing or haying restrictions for any class of livestock, including lactating dairy cows, horses (including lactating mares) and meat animals prior to slaughter. Label precautions apply to forage treated with TerraVue and to manure and urine from animals that have consumed treated forage. TerraVue is not registered for sale or use in all states. Contact your state pesticide regulatory agency to determine if a product is registered for sale or use in your state. Consult the label for full details. State restrictions on the sale and use of Garlon® 4 Ultra apply. Consult the label before purchase or use for full details. Always read and follow label directions. © 2023 Corteva.

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