Get Crops Off to the Best Start-Despite Late Planting

"Look for not only the stand-out winners but the losers, too. If you plant a dog, you’re going to harvest puppies." ( Lindsey Benne )

While planters are running in many parts of farm country, many fields are yet unfit. Do all you can to ensure the crop gets the best start possible—even if field conditions mean you’re planting later than you’d hoped.

What’s one of the most troubling issues when you can’t get into fields? Weeds.

If you have weeds in your fields before planting you’ll need to carefully consider when you can get in to control those pests. If weeds have a head start on your crop, you’ll be at a disadvantage all season. Weigh your herbicide options.

Burndown should be used to control weeds that have already emerged and pre-emerge should have residual control to stop new weeds from coming out of the ground, according to Curtis Thompson, Kansas State University professor and Extension weed science specialist.

Furthermore, a pre-emergent herbicide should always be part of your herbicide plan, according to experts.

“You don’t want to skimp on pre-emergent herbicides because you have so few options in post, especially in soybeans,” says Gordon Vail, Syngenta herbicide technical product lead. “If you skimp, you’ll have more weeds for the post application.”

Pre-emergent herbicides are your first line of defense. Make sure your application is timely so any growing weeds die, and consider residuals.

“When managing small-seeded broadleaves, the best thing to do is not let them emerge since once they do they grow so fast,” says Ken Bennis, Dow AgroSciences market development specialist. “The best way to do that is spray more than one residual.”

After emergence, get out and scout to make sure the first application was effective and to time post application. In a perfect scenario, you’ll treat weeds at or before they reach 4", but if weather gets in the way make sure you have a contingency plan.

Growing a successful crop is more complex than just spraying any single mode of action. Weeds are harder to control, are resistant to more herbicide groups and can steal bushels—a lot of them. If you aren’t mindful of your herbicide system, you might render every herbicide class useless. It’s smart to follow these weed management best practices:

  • Apply multiple, effective modes of action.
  • Consider new traits or herbicides.
  • Use both pre-emergent and residual herbicides.
  • Scout to apply herbicides at the appropriate time and rate.
  • Try mechanical weed control.

Be mindful of any plant-back restrictions herbicides might have. Check out the chart below for more information about common herbicides and their plant-back restrictions: