Following a program approach to weed control can help farmers control the weeds that challenge crops this year while preserving the effectiveness of herbicide technologies into the future. Retailers can help farmers develop a well-thought-out weed control program that can help them achieve successful weed control, improved yield and higher profits in years to come.
Jonathan Siebert, Ph.D., Dow AgroSciences Enlist™ field sales leader, offers these six tips that retailers can consider when helping customers with weed control strategies.
- Know the field history. “It’s important to reference the past, especially the previous year, when laying out a weed control program,” Siebert says. “If a field harbors marestail or Palmer amaranth, you’ll need to select herbicides that are effective against those species.”
- Start with a clean seedbed. “Your goal should be to have no weeds in the field at planting,” Siebert says. “Most fields benefit from a burndown program that can include effective herbicides such as glyphosate and new 2,4-D choline, the ingredients in Enlist Duo herbicide.”
- Use herbicides with residual activity. “Adding residual herbicides at burndown, preemergence or both can provide additional modes of action that help control weeds in the current year and preserve the efficacy of our postemergence herbicide technologies,” Siebert says.
- Rotate modes of action. “To prevent the development of herbicide resistance, we need to rotate the modes of action available to us,” Siebert says. “Weed control needs to be prescriptive: We must scout fields and, when weeds emerge, hit them with postemergence herbicides, remembering to rotate modes of action.”
- Keep the borders of fields clean. Siebert suggests farmers make sure they’re controlling weeds in ditches and turn rows to prevent weed escapes. Weeds in these areas can develop resistance because they’ve avoided exposure to full rates of effective herbicides.
- Adopt a zero-tolerance policy. Controlling weeds effectively throughout the growing season is essential to curbing the expansion of herbicide resistance.
“We have to be good stewards,” Siebert emphasizes. “Longevity of our herbicide technologies is key to effective long-term weed control.”
Siebert says growers may need to pull rogue weeds to keep those that escape herbicides from eventually overwhelming technologies. “The best practice is to keep the farm free of weeds,” he says. “A field that’s clean helps protect more of the yield potential of every seed we plant.”
The fate of glyphosate is a lesson agriculture can’t forget. “As glyphosate has become less of a silver bullet, it’s had a negative impact on economics and profitability,” Siebert says. “Abusing and losing weed management tools costs time and money. With tight margins, farmers need to do all they can to maximize yield and profits by keeping weeds from shrinking income.”
Sound weed management plans — with retailers providing assistance to customers as they develop these plans — is vital to boosting farmers’ opportunities for long-term profitability.
“We need to be proactive in our approach to weed control,” Siebert says. “Weed control and resistance management take a long-term commitment just like soil fertility requires a long-term view. We have to look five or 10 years down the road. Successful weed management can help farmers achieve long-term productivity.”