This spring was another for the record books, and despite excessive rainfall, we are still off to a decent start in most of our trade territory. As we hit mid-season, here are some best practices to follow with crop protection applications:
We were able to get our MorCorn replicated trials planted in perfect timing for the rain we had the last of April to the first of May. At our Training Camp site outside Boonville, emergence was six days after planting and reached V3 eight days later. It’s important to pay attention to making proper post-emergence applications. Just because the plant is 4 inches tall doesn’t tell you anything about how far along it is physiologically. Make sure you look at how many collars or trifoliates are fully emerged when making applications. Applying a herbicide after the specified growth stage can have adverse effects.
Cover crop termination
Spending several days on the road in April, I noticed something a little different than last year. A high percentage of the fields with cover crops established had been terminated prior to planting. The weather for this practice was more in our favor this year than in the past. However, I did receive several calls about poor product performance on terminating cover crops. Which product to use? What rate? What residual? When I took the calls, I asked a series of questions about herbicide applications and performance. Then I asked about the weather. If the grower made applications with the same mix on two different days and got different results, I followed by asking about high and low temperatures around the time of applications. In most cases, it seems that poorly controlled cereal rye is related to a cold spell at night or during the day. That would typically jog the grower’s memory, and then I would hear, “Yeah, it was 45 the day we sprayed it.” In some circumstances this may work, but when trying to terminate a dense stand, you need to make sure conditions are right for your application.
The last thing I want to discuss is adjuvants. Adjuvants play an important role in your herbicide, fungicide and insecticide applications. Often, when we are making applications toward the end of the growing season, we tend to hear, “just leave out the adjuvant.” Most of the time, it’s about the checkbook—not any agronomic reason. However, I want you to think about the performance of the pesticide you are applying. When the pesticide label recommends a COC (crop oil concentrate), MSO (methylated seed oil) or NIS (nonionic surfactant), then it has a purpose. Most of the time it helps pesticides penetrate the leaf cuticle of the target weed or crop. This helps improve the performance of the product you are applying.
You’ve probably heard this statement before, but not all adjuvants are created equal. I get calls every year about dish soap, laundry detergent or something similar that producers would like to use as a surfactant. Our MFA Crop Advantage lineup is top notch. Ken Carmack, MFA adjuvant specialist, spends countless hours making sure that the best products are in our jugs. I know for a fact that our products aren’t always the cheapest on the market, but I can tell you they are some of the best. I can also assure you that they have been tested and validated to exceed expectations of performance.