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Be on guard for early-season weed pressures

Agriculture.com Staff 04/21/2010 @ 10:41am

It's been a warm, dry spring so far in much of the Midwest. After the last couple of wet, tough spring planting seasons, the current conditions are a welcome sight to farmers.

That doesn't mean this spring's without challenges. The current warm, dry trend is just as enjoyable for winter annual weeds, which are popping up around the nation's midsection.

But, spring planting is an ideal time to control those weeds, even in no-till or minimum tillage systems where weed pressures can be greater, according to Syngenta technical brand manager Gordon Vail. That could prove especially true this spring, with a cooler, damp weather pattern expected to descent upon the Corn Belt this weekend and into next week.

"Some growers will have the tendency to not control those weeds when they plant and get them when they emerge," Vail tells Agriculture.com. "One of the big risks if you have rain and can't get into the field is those weeds will continue to grow."

Vail says applying a glyphosate herbicide, like Syngenta's Touchdown, could prove the most effective protection from early winter annual pressures if rainfall prevents farmers from performing either tillage or herbicide applications later in the growing season.

If you're still waiting on better conditions to start planting your 2010 crop and have the time to do it, another way to knock down early-season winter annual weeds is in a pre-plant application of atrazine, like Syngenta's Lumax. With products like these, Vail says farmers have more application options as long as they put it down close to planting.

"You really want those products to be ahead of planting. Lumax can be put down 2 to 4 weeks ahead of planting," Vail says. "There are a lot of ways to use those products. A lot of farmers will use a 2/3 foundation rate followed by a full rate after planting. The closer you can get it to the emergence of the crop, the better you are. If you can't get them on pre-, you can get them on early post."

But, this year, many Corn Belt farmers have been able to get in the field and get a lot of corn planted earlier than normal. That puts a premium on residual control. Will today's atrazine-based products carry protection through the necessary timeframe?

"If you try to put it out a month before planting and expect full-season residual, that's a tall order. These types of products will have enough residual to carry through the season," Vail says. "Residual's not impacted really by weed pressure. It's really impacted by rainfall and the time it takes the product to degrade. If you have a heavy weed population early on, your residual really lasts the same amount of time as if you have lighter populations. It's more about the conditions that are there for degradation."

It's been a warm, dry spring so far in much of the Midwest. After the last couple of wet, tough spring planting seasons, the current conditions are a welcome sight to farmers.

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