With weed control, do the right thing

Written by Dr. Jason Weirich on .

With all the talk about weed control and the issues surrounding it, I find it fitting to discuss that topic this month. Even with the drop in commodity prices, weeds are still going to emerge and compete with your crop. When it comes to weed control, we can’t afford to give up on doing the right thing.

Herbicide resistance has driven the adoption of residual herbicides in corn and soybeans. Overlapping residual herbicides are still the best weed control practices you can implement on your farm. It might be the only way we can preserve multiple herbicide trait packages.

Let me explain. The overuse of Liberty as a source of weed control makes me believe it’s only a matter of time before we lose the effectiveness of that technology. I know many growers are using overlapping residuals with the Liberty Link system, but we also have growers who are not. This single mode of action on off-label weeds leads us down a road that doesn’t end well for the technology.

When we look at the Roundup Ready system, overlapping residuals are controlling our driver weeds such as waterhemp, Palmer pigweed, marestail, giant ragweed, etc. Yes, we do have issues at times with failure to get that timely rain to activate the residuals, but it is the best option we have.

In the Roundup Ready system, we have seen increased over-the-top applications of the class of herbicides known as PPO (protoporphyrinogen oxidase). With timely applications, we can usually do a good job of cleaning up some of the escaped weeds. But every year, we all can pinpoint that one field that gets hit with everything but the kitchen sink. We have seen a rise in performance issues with these type of products (Cobra, Blazer, Flexstar, etc.) even on labeled weeds. Over-the-top usage of PPO has provided much relief from some of the herbicide resistance issues we have seen, but it appears that is coming to an end, at least for the time being.

Now let’s talk about the Xtend cropping system. By now you are aware of the protocols that MFA has put in place to help steward this program past the 2018 season. I feel that this is the best way to keep this technology for the future. You may ask, “Why past 2018?” When these products received the label for the 2017-18 season, it was good for two years. This season will be pivotal for the future of this technology. I believe that this system can be stewarded, but we must utilize overlapping residual herbicides to make it so. We simply must follow the label and all the guidelines to help protect this technology.

What does that mean? Well, we know that the label restrictions will limit the days in which applications of these products can be made during the season. If the spraying conditions aren’t right, we must stop application or change our weed-control tactics. We have to follow the label, or we could lose the use of this herbicide. This chemistry isn’t a silver bullet, and it shouldn’t be treated like one.

Does your integrated weed management plan consider the use or non-use of dicamba? Does your plan utilize overlapping residuals in all cropping systems? Does your plan have the proper adjuvants and/or drift reduction agents listed? I hope that by the time this reaches your mailbox, you already have that plan in place. If not, please reach out to one of our MFA or affiliated locations to develop yours today.

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