• Crop Protection

Manage Herbicide-Resistant Weeds With Diversification

tractor spraying field

Even though we have more trait technologies to battle tough weeds today, herbicide resistance remains a major challenge for farmers. That’s why it takes a diverse, well-executed plan to stay on top of weed management. Here are six considerations to help you stay ahead of troublesome weeds.


Herbicide programs are the easiest way to diversify.

When it comes to managing weeds, the simplest strategy is to switch up your herbicide program. That could mean adding new modes of action to your spray program or applying residual herbicides that can take the pressure off postemergence herbicides. Planting seed with a different herbicide trait package than you normally plant is also a relatively simple way to diversify your herbicide program.


The key to diversifying chemistries is to consider active ingredients and modes of action. Just because you’re applying several herbicides doesn’t necessarily mean you’re diversifying your program. If those herbicides all have similar modes of action, you could be setting yourself up for resistance issues down the road. Be sure to read the label and understand what you’re applying to determine if it will be an effective treatment for the weeds you’re targeting.


Application practices make the difference between average and excellent weed control.

Even if you’ve built a gold-star herbicide program that includes layered residuals and multiple modes of action, if you take shortcuts when you apply, you won’t get the full benefit of your investment. As budgets get tighter, I understand that it can be tempting to cut herbicide rates to save money. But in the end, it’s likely you’ll just end up paying more in lost yield potential and increased weed pressure.


Follow product labels using the appropriate water volume and herbicide rates for your situation. You should also be sure to use the right nozzles, boom height and adjuvants to get as much of the active ingredient as you can to the intended weed target. A drift and deposition aid, including InterLock® adjuvant, can help optimize the spray droplet size to promote canopy penetration. That helps ensure more of the herbicide’s active ingredient gets into the plant, resulting in better weed control. An effective water conditioner like Class Act® NG® can help prevent herbicide from tying up with water in the tank so you’ll get faster, more aggressive weed control.


Cover crops can help you start clean.

Cover crops are becoming more popular for several reasons, one of them being the weed control benefits they offer. When plant material from a cover crop intercepts light, that light  doesn’t hit the soil and weeds have a harder time getting established. That means fields are cleaner going into spring, a time when newly emerging crops are most vulnerable to weed competition.


Cover crops are not always the easiest option to implement, and they may not be a good fit for every farmer. But in the right situation, they can offer substantial weed control benefits. If you’re interested in what it might take to get started with cover crops, talk with your local agronomist.


Crop rotation can help prevent herbicide resistance from developing in fields.

Rotating crops is another non-chemical strategy for managing weeds. When you rotate crops, you’re naturally going to use different strategies and weed control products depending on the crop you’ve planted. That alone can reduce the likelihood of developing herbicide-resistant weeds, since you’ll be less likely to select for them if you’re changing up the modes of action applied each season.


The right soybean seed selection can help prevent weed establishment in wide rows.

As you’re making seed decisions for 2021, consider your row planting width and match soybean varieties accordingly. For example, in some areas where farmers are planting 30- or 38-inch rows, a tall, upright soybean variety probably isn’t the best option. Instead, a shorter variety that bushes out to cover the row is a better choice to reduce weed emergence and competition.


Tillage is still an effective weed control option in some areas.

While many farmers have chosen no-till production for their fields, in some cases tillage can still be a viable option to manage heavy weed pressure. In flat areas without highly erodible soil, full tillage or even minimal or conservation tillage methods provide another tool for diversifying the weed control program.


Diversification ultimately comes down to using every tool available to you to prevent weeds from ever emerging. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, and you’ll need to balance agronomic, logistic and economic considerations to develop a plan that fits your operation. Contact your local WinField United retailer for help diversifying your weed control plan for 2021.


All photos are either the property of WinField United or used with permission.


Important: Before use always read and follow label instructions. Crop performance is dependent on several factors many of which are beyond the control of WinField United, including without limitation, soil type, pest pressures, agronomic practices, and weather conditions. Growers are encouraged to consider data from multiple locations, over multiple years, and be mindful of how such agronomic conditions could impact results.


© 2020 WinField United. Class Act®, InterLock®, NG® and WinField® are trademarks of WinField United.

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