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Residual herbicides knock out the weed jungle

Agriculture.com Staff 02/06/2016 @ 9:36am

The peaceful tapestry of gently rolling corn and soybean fields may seem to have little in common with the wild-eyed rock band Guns 'N' Roses.

Yet, the band's screaming anthem "Welcome to the Jungle" can apply to fields where delayed glyphosate applications occur.

A weed-choked jungle isn't just nasty to the eye -- it also costs you money. Waiting until weeds are taller than six to eight inches before glyhposate is first applied can reduce soybean yields by approximately 10%, according to a fact sheet recently published by Purdue University and Ohio State University.

Assuming 50 bushel per acre soybean yields priced at $7 per bushel, that's a $35-per-acre loss. It's even more crucial for corn.

"Corn can't take a beating like beans," says Daryl Allen, Six Sigma black belt for DuPont Crop Protection.

A 2004 University of Wisconsin study showed corn yields dipped 79 bushels per acre in 17 days when a Roundup Ultra application was applied at V2 versus V5. At $3.50 per bushel corn, that's a $276.50-per-acre loss.

"There's a re-realization that weeds are really costing producers significant yield loss," says Duane Martin, herbicide brand manager for Syngenta Crop Protection.

Try residual
That's why several companies we talked to during the recent Commodity Classic in Tampa, Florida, stressed using residual preemergence herbicides. These herbicides can remove early-season weed competition and provide a set-up for a later glyphosate application.

"If you don't keep the fields clean from the get-go, you will be fighting weeds all year long," says Mark Wolters, DuPont Crop Protection Commercialization Manager - Optimum GAT Systems. "If you want to finish clean, you have to start clean."

Fall herbicides are an option, as they can reduce springtime workloads.

"A limiting factor of fall herbicide applications is weather," adds Wolters. "If it gets wet, it's hard for us to get that stuff out on the field."

But whether fall or spring, a residual herbicide can knock down early weed growth and save yield. "Farmers cannot afford not to use residual herbicides," says Wolters.

The peaceful tapestry of gently rolling corn and soybean fields may seem to have little in common with the wild-eyed rock band Guns 'N' Roses.

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