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How to Manage Prevent Plant Weeds

2020 could see an explosion of weeds due to weed seed drop on prevent plant acres

So, what separated 2019 from other years when it came to weed management? Prevent plant acres.

Prevented planting on approximately 19.4 million acre in 2019 didn’t just dent the bottom lines of farmers. A whirlwind of weed seed may trouble fields for 2020 and years to come.

“There are some jungles out there, says Travis Gustafson, a Syngenta agronomic services representative from Grand Island, Nebraska. Many farmers would have wanted to spray or plant a cover crop to nix weed growth.  

“They couldn’t get a wheel in their to spray or plant a cover crop,” he says. So, weeds were the cover, unfortunately. It’s going to be a challenge for next year It will take some creativity to get those fields in shape.”

Solutions? “Deep tillage to bury it weed seed is one, “he says. Those where were fortunate last summer to get in prevent plant acres with a herbicide to kill weeds or plant a cover crop to provide competition are others.

“No one should be surprised at how much weed seed will be produced,” says Bryan Young, Purdue University weed scientist.

Still, some may be surprised at how big of a problem it will be next year. Just a few escapes in a year can lead to major weed infestations down the road.

Nor should farmers assume they will know all weed problems in these fields for 2020, says Young. “The absence of crops, tillage, herbicides, or all three may have allowed a weed spectrum different from what normally produce seed,” he says. “These fields are great candidates to be proactive with a weed management strategy.”

All this underscores the importance of weed seedbank management, he says. That’s important not just on  prevented planted acres, but in crop fields as well where escapes can take place.

“Be cognizant of weeds at harvest and where you combine,” Young says. Running weeds through a combine can serve as a planter that seed future weed infestations, he says.

If conditions stay wet over winter, farmers may again wrestle with weed control on prevent planted acres.

“It is challenging to put money into fields that will not give a harvestable yield, but managing those weeds so they do not drop seeds helps improve weed control the following season,” says Kevin Gale, an AgriGold agronomist for northern Illinois.

READ MORE: 20 Strategies That Farmers Can Use In 2020

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