• May 23, 2016

Get Out of the Weeds!

aerial view of field
For plenty of reasons — lack of time, bad weather or no-till management — some of you may have found yourselves planting into a bed of weeds this spring. While it’s ideal to start the season with clean fields, we all know ideal doesn’t always happen. How can you get out from behind the eight ball in terms of weed control this year? 
Step One: Determine the extent of the problem and talk with your agronomist about the best postemergence herbicide recommendations based on the weed spectrum in the field and crop.
Step Two: Once you get a handle on a herbicide program, diligent scouting must be on your radar for the remainder of the season to manage any weed outbreaks. Also, watch out for insects such as cutworms and armyworms that are attracted to weeds.
Step Three: At the end of the season, work with your agronomist to create a weed-management plan for next season based on your observations of your weed challenges this year. Initiate that plan in the fall and continue working it into next spring. It could mean that if you normally make your own fall burndown applications, for example, you may need to consider hiring a custom applicator if you find yourself strapped for time. 
Unfortunately, even if you make the appropriate herbicide applications, your weeds may return. In these cases, your agronomist may recommend a second postemergence herbicide application to help prevent yield reduction due to weed competition or insect damage.
My colleague, Mark Glady, has this handy tip for effective weed control applications: onto, into, “thru” and do. Your herbicide applications must:
  • Adequately contact the weeds. (ONTO)
  • Be absorbed in sufficient quantities. (INTO)
  • Move within the weed to the site of action. (THRU)
  • Reach toxic levels at the site of action. (DO)
The key to dealing with most weeds, particularly waterhemp and Palmer amaranth, is to never let them emerge in the first place. That can be accomplished by using full rates of residual products prior to emergence. With herbicide resistance and tolerance, you need that residual piece to be the core of any herbicide management program.