Barnyard grass, Echinochloa crusgalli

Life Cycle



Reproducing only by seed.


Stems are erect, spreading or lying horizontally on the ground and bending upwards but rooting from nodes (a) in contact with the soil; stems 5 - 150 cm long, coarse, smooth, usually round in cross-section but occasionally much flattened.


Leaves are 5 - 50 cm long, 6 - 22 mm broad, deep green or somewhat purplish, hairless or with 1 to 3 solitary hairs (b) near the base of the blade (c); leaf sheaths split with overlapping margins (d); ligule absent (e); no auricles.

Flowers and Fruit

Inflorescence 5 - 25 cm long having a central stem with several spreading, nearly erect, thick branches with rather dense clusters of spikelets; their colour varies from green to yellowish-green to dark purplish-green to almost black; each spikelet is covered with short, stiff hair and may either be awned or awnless; and contain a single fertile floret (“seed” or “grain”); awns straight or twisted (f), varying from 1 - 40 mm long; “seeds” about 3 mm long, hard, shiny, pale yellow, and rounded on one surface but flattened on the other. Flowers from July to August.

Roots and Underground Structures

Barnyard grass roots are fibrous and shallow.


It occurs in cultivated fields, waste places, along road-sides, in gardens and occasionally in lawns, usually being more abundant in moist soil and becoming conspicuous in late summer and fall. It is distinguished from all other weedy grasses in Canada by the complete absence of a ligule (e) at the junction of leaf blade and leaf sheath, and its rather coarse, chunky inflorescence.


Corn yield loss (%)*: 2 % at 1 plant/m2 7 % at 5 plant/m2 Soybean yield loss (%)*: 3 % at 1 plant/m2 12 % at 5 plant/m2 *assumes that the weed has emerged with the crop and has been left uncontrolled all season.

Distinguishing Features

It is distinguished from all other annual grasses by its complete lack of a ligule.


Barnyard grass is not considered toxic.

Human Health Issues

Barnyard grass may cause allergies (hayfever).

Forage Quality

Currently no information available.

Species Benefits

No information available at this time.

Power Ranking Corn

Power Ranking

↑ 14


Power Ranking Soybeans

Power Ranking

↑ 20


Biological Control

Currently none available for this weed. for the latest research on biological weed control.

Biopesticide Control

Currently none available for this weed.

Herbicide Resistance

Triazine resistant (WSSA group 5) populations exist in Waterloo county (ON). For more information on weed resistance:

Figure #1.

Barnyard grass drawing. A. Plant B. Leaf-base C. Panicle.

Figure #2.

No ligule, the only common annual grass without a ligule.

Figure #3.

Leaf sheath is flat and hairless. Leaf margins are also hairless.

Figure #4.

Seed heads: Central axis with lateral branches containing dense clusters of spikelets.

Figure #5.

Whole plant.