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How to Manage Cattails in Corn and Soybeans

Cattail
control in corn and soybeans probably doesn’t rank as high as control of the
waterhemps and marestails of the world with which you’ve wrestled in recent
years.

Yet,
this spring’s rampant rainfall gives this aquatic weed an opening in your corn
and soybean fields. I snapped this picture in my family’s field near Claremont,
South Dakota, last year. 

Fortunately,
this cattail in soybeans was a minor annoyance. (The 15-acre strip of water filled
with cattails, ducks and mosquitoes that ran across the field in 2010 and 2011
was a lot more annoying.)

I
wondered if there was any way to control cattails, and there is. When Chris
Boerboom was Extension weed specialist at the University of Wisconsin, he
developed some guidelines to manage cattails.

If
you still hope to plant some soybeans, tillage is an effective first step to
control cattail.

Boerboom
found cattail is also listed on most glyphosate labels, with high rates
recommended at the early heading stage. Although rate and timing may be
challenging to include in standard application programs, he found glyphosate may
be the best way to control it, particularly in no-till corn.

University
of Missouri Extension agronomy specialists Wayne Flanary and Heather Benedict
note some glyphosate labels have rates as high as 3 quarts per acre at
flowering for control. Including a surfactant is recommended, as droplets may
roll off the leaf surface.

In
corn, Boerboom found dicamba-based herbicides like Banvel, Clarity, and Status
can suppress cattail or be tankmixed with glyphosate.

Cattail
infestations can spread rapidly via wind-borne seed. Cattail produces 20,000 to 700,000 seeds per flowering
“spike”.  When conditions are
right—such as seed residing in warm marshy soils—germination readily occurs.
Under unfavorable germination conditions, seed can persist in the soil for long
periods of time until favorable conditions return.

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