Part 5 Planter Prep Series: The Weed Control Battle Starts Now

March 18, 2016 07:50 AM
Part 5 Planter Prep Series: The Weed Control Battle Starts Now

Use this 5 part series to prep your planter and plan your planting strategy

At this point in the winter, spring can’t come fast enough. Longer days, warmer temperatures and hints of green will be here before you know it. Don’t waste time that could be spent prioritizing and planning for what’s to come and prepping your planter. In tight margins, using your time, resources and inputs wisely is even more important. —Staff report

Whether it’s a footrace or a growing crop, if given a head start you’ll likely beat out the competition. When you let weeds get a jump on your crop you’re giving them a distinct advantage. Study your field dynamics to determine if burndown is necessary or if pre-emergent herbicide alone will suffice.

First, know when it’s best to use burndown herbicides versus pre-emergent herbicides. Burndown is used to control weeds that have already emerged, says Curtis Thompson, Kansas State University professor and Extension weed science specialist. Pre-emergent should have residual control to stop new weeds from coming out of the ground.

While burndown might only be necessary in no-till and special situations, you always need a pre-emergent herbicide. Post-only programs make it difficult to control weeds, especially in wet seasons since it’s harder to get into fields and easy to get behind. “I can’t emphasize enough the importance of a pre product,” Thompson adds. “Two-pass systems are the most effective and it doesn’t have to be the most expensive pre-emergent.”

Think about what problem weeds plagued your fields in 2015, especially at harvest, says Mike Owen, Iowa State Extension weed scientist. Select herbicides that will be effective against those weeds while considering any resistance issues. 

Use multiple effective modes of action against common weeds in your fields. “Make sure you have a minimum of two,” Owen says. “Remember in some weeds, such as waterhemp, multiple resistances are the norm.”

Understand herbicide residual properties, how they’re activated and if they will be viable when weeds germinate. “We look for products that vary in the amount of residual,” Thompson says. “We want some that need just a little rain and some that do well with more.” Also make sure you have a good understanding of how long the pre-emergent residual lasts into the growing season and if it will be able to control target weeds when they germinate.

While planning your pre-emergent herbicide, start thinking about what you’ll use in a post application, Thompson says. It’s important to make sure you can get an effective mix of products so you don’t use the same mixes over and over again.

Corn and soybeans need to focus their energy on growing. Don’t give weeds a head start.


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