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Sponsored: Weed Control Reminders for 2017
It’s not surprise that growing row crops in a low market environment can be challenging and requires us to sharpen and apply our management skills. This is especially true when it comes to controlling the weeds in our fields. Research has shown that significant yield reductions occur when weeds are not controlled during the early vegetative growth stages. Developing and honing in on your weed control game plan now, and implementing it in a timely manner, is critical for success.
This article covers a few topics outside of the typical chemistry recommendations that are usually made when discussing weed control.
Scout your fields to improve site-specific, “situational awareness”.
This is the single, most important practice you can implement in your fight against weeds and weed resistance. If you can’t do it yourself, hire an experienced field scout.
Why is scouting important?
- To determine which weed species you have and which ones are resistant.
- To locate resistant weed “hot-spots” in your fields.
- To determine weed pressure and weed height to ensure that your herbicide applications are timely and your chemistry selection is accurate for the situation at hand.
- To determine the control (or lack thereof) of weeds with the herbicides you have applied.
Farmers have become too dependent on conceptual approaches to weed control. There is nothing wrong with strategy selection based on supplier information, but you can’t fight an enemy unless you know its disposition. Become more tactical with your weed control management. Get out in your fields and scout, observe and measure what you are fighting, and what strategies work and which ones do not. Be sure to research chemistry performance on your own farm.
Promote early, vigorous crop growth.
Your crops have to compete with weeds, and weed competition reduces yield. Here are a few ways to help your crops win the fight!
- Soil test and maintain soil pH, phosphorus, and potassium at proper levels.
- Utilize seed treatments to protect young plants from insect feeding and disease while stimulating early root and shoot growth. Beck’s Escalate™ yield enhancement system comes standard on all seed at no charge and has been proven to increase yields. Farmers can also add Escalate SDS with ILeVO® to help protect their soybean fields from Sudden Death Syndrome.
- Use proven “at-planting” products to stimulate root growth and early plant development. Beck's Practical Farm Research (PFR)® team has developed a full list of PFR Proven™ Products which you can view in the 2016 PFR Book here.
- Utilize a nitrogen/phosphorus/sulfur/zinc starter on the planter in no-till systems. In vertical- or reduced-tillage system for corn, consider applying a portion of your total nitrogen as ammonium sulfate ahead of the seedbed preparation pass. An example of this would be to apply a 30-0-0-12 using urea and ammonium sulfate right before tillage.
- Improve field drainage. Crop roots need soil moisture but do not grow well in saturated, low-oxygen environments.
Make planting your most successful operation of the season.
As I mentioned previously, scouting your fields is the most critical tool to achieving your production goals. Successful planting comes in a close second. Planting is also the operation in which things most frequently go wrong. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you head out to your fields to plant.
- Plant at the correct seeding rate for your selected hybrids and/or varieties as well as the area of your field(s). Contact your trusted advisor for recommendations on the desired number of plants/A. for your product/soil scenario.
- Plant soybeans in 15 in. rows or less.
- Measure, improve, and calibrate planter singulation and spacing during the off-season.
- Plant when soil conditions are right, not on a desired calendar date. Germinating and emerging corn and soybean seedlings require specific soil temperature to get off to a good start. Roots do not like to grow in cold, wet soils with no oxygen.
- Do not run heavy planter equipment on soils that are too wet. The resulting surface and sidewall compaction restricts crop seedling root growth and development.
Tillage is a very effective tool in weed control management. The use of residual herbicides at planting is also critical, especially for fighting resistant weeds in soybeans. This is true with all primary platforms for weed control in soybean—glyphosate, glufosinate, and dicamba. For soybeans, use residual chemistries with proven efficacy to control glyphosate-resistant weeds. Pyroxasulfone (Zidua®), Sulfentrazone (Authority®), and flumioxazin (Valor®) are typically the most effective pre-emergent herbicides. Other options, some of which may be needed if you are also fighting weeds resistant to PPO chemistries, include metribuzin, acetochlor, metolachlor, dimethenamid, and safluenacil. The key to controlling weeds is to understand that combining and layering residual herbicides with your primary platform is necessary to fight the increased resistance to current and new technologies.
When you have time, I encourage you check out this blog which discusses resistant weed management options in both glyphosate-tolerant and LibertyLink® systems.
David Hughes | Field Agronomist and Herbicide Specialist
LibertyLink® and ILeVO® are registered trademarks of Bayer. Escalate™, PFR Proven™ and Practical Farm Research (PFR)® are trademarks of Beck’s Superior Hybrids, Inc. Zidua® is a registered trademark of BASF. Authority® brands are registered trademarks of FMC Corporation. Valor® is a registered trademark of Valent U.S.A. Corporation.