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Spring ahead

Agriculture.com Staff 09/01/2006 @ 2:17pm

Why put off till next spring what you can do this fall? A little extra work in the fall, like herbicide spraying, helps some farmers get a jump-start at planting.

Besides saving time, there are a few other reasons to fall-apply.

Saving money.

Saving moisture.

Preventing weed and insect problems during the growing season.

John Hickman, who farms near St. Joseph, Missouri, has used a fall herbicide application for the past four years on half his acres. This fall he'll spray all his acres. Those late-season applications take off spring pre-emergence application pressure, he points out.

"I'd watched other people use a fall application program, and I liked the results," says Hickman. "And this way, I'm not trying to get out there when the field is too wet."

On corn, Hickman waits until December to apply anhydrous ammonia due to regulations for his acres enrolled in USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service's (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQUIP). He likes to apply Basis (rimsulfuron) or Princep (simazine) with his 2,4-D after anhydrous application. Otherwise, peppergrass germinates in the knife marks left by the applicator.

By using such a system, he's found that he can generally do a single pass in the spring. Hickman sprays Steadfast (nicosulfuron) or Callisto (mesotrione) when corn is 6 inches tall, and that carries him through until canopy closure, he says.

Until 2004, Hickman has had the best luck in soybeans with Canopy XL (chlorimuron + sulfentrazone). Canopy XL is no longer available. However, DuPont's replacement, Canopy EX (chlorimuron + tribenuron), fares well in research trials, even though it does not have the same residual activity on summer annual weeds as the Canopy XL, says Kevin Bradley, University of Missouri Extension weed specialist. Without the sulfentrazone, the herbicide doesn't have residual control on black nightshade, waterhemp, star-of-Bethlehem, and ALS-resistant marestail. However, Canopy EX does control chickweed, which Canopy XL did not control.

Why put off till next spring what you can do this fall? A little extra work in the fall, like herbicide spraying, helps some farmers get a jump-start at planting.

Dave Schultz, who farms near Janesville, Minnesota, saves $3 per acre in application costs alone by applying Dual (metolachlor) in the fall. Schultz is a customer of Crystal Valley Co-op (CVC), a major fertilizer supplier in the area. CVC encourages area farmers to apply a granular herbicide, like Dual, with their fall fertilizer application. If they do, CVC customers save $3 per acre off the usual $6-per- acre spring application rate.

Dandelion is becoming more prevalent in the eastern Corn Belt. Fall is a good time to treat with 2,4-D and glyphosate.

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