Chase the Sprayer with the Planter

Tom Eubank, Research/Extension Weed Scientist
By Tom Eubank, Research/Extension Weed Scientist and Jason Bond, Research/Extension Weed Scientist April 26, 2013 12:18

Chase the Sprayer with the Planter

The frequent rains have created a near perfect storm for the proliferation of weeds in many fields. Producers have not been able to burndown many fields in a timely manner due to persistent rain events, and now these same fields need to be planted as soon as it dries up. We have had many questions about which burndown products to use on large weeds, such as Italian ryegrass, swinecress, horseweed, and cutleaf evening-primrose. These weeds can be hard enough to control early in the spring, but as their size increases, they become nearly impossible to kill with a single application of a herbicide. Assuming we get back into these fields soon, it is imperative that we control these weeds prior to planting. The herbicide options for controlling these larger weeds are limited enough but once the crop has emerged there are virtually no options for weeds like Italian ryegrass, short of a plow. This situation does have a small silver lining in that spraying these large winter weeds offers the chance to apply our residual herbicides prior to planting.Historically, we have chased the planter with the sprayer to apply residual herbicides. This presents several potential problems; residual applications can be delayed due to wind and rain preventing application prior to crop emergence, not getting an activating rainfall (this obviously has not been a problem this year) prior to crop emergence can lead to weeds emerging with the crop as well as increasing injury potential. These scenarios then require the producer to apply a postemergence treatment much sooner than normal, which may not carry them into crop canopy closure.

If we reverse this pattern and begin chasing the sprayer with the planter, we see some additional benefits; improved control of existing weeds by “heating up” the burndown, greater chance for receiving an activating rainfall, less injury potential on the subsequent emerging crop because herbicide has been activated, not having additional weeds, like Palmer amaranth, emerging right after burndown, and the greatest advantage is having a fallback option in case a herbicide program failed.

This season has already started off on the wrong foot for a lot of producers. However, this situation does not need to be complicated even further by rushing into a field to plant that is covered with weeds that we may not be able to control with standard over-the-top applications.

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Tom Eubank, Research/Extension Weed Scientist
By Tom Eubank, Research/Extension Weed Scientist and Jason Bond, Research/Extension Weed Scientist April 26, 2013 12:18
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