Nine Steps for Effective, Early Season Weed Control

nine steps for effective early season weed control

Louis Sutton recommends using this list of nine things that farmers need to pay attention to for effective weed control and resistance management.

1. Look beyond this year by creating a three- to five-year plan. With this long-view perspective, you can look ahead, having a firm idea about your crop rotation, herbicide use based on modes of action and application strategy. Keep in mind that rotating compounds is extremely important. 

2. Know the driver weeds for each field. These are your target. But it’s also important to know the second- and third-tier weeds. This way you have an idea of the full weed spectrum you have to attack in each field.

3. Rotate between the seven different modes of action and keep rotating your crops using a different mode of action each and every year. At the end of your three- to five-year plan, you should have used multiple modes of action. Don’t go back to a single herbicide.

4. Plan to have weed problems. Don’t let them surprise you. You should know what weeds are in each field and be ready to attack them.

5. Ask your AYS or agronomist to help you ID the weeds correctly; some weeds look similar. You can’t control weeds if you don’t know what they are.

6. Use long-lasting herbicides to control grass and broadleaf weeds. Spray early to control germination. Don’t just ding weeds. They’ll come back stronger and be harder to kill.

7. Be ready with a post spray and make sure it’s timely. Don’t let the weeds get too large to kill. 

8. Scout your fields weekly so you know what you’re spraying for and when to apply the herbicide. Don’t spray all your fields at one time just because you want to be done with it.

9. Do the math. Remember, sometime weeds win. Does the respray cost more than the weeds’ potential to reduce yields? For example, if spray costs $24.50 an acre and the weeds reduce yields by 2 to 3 bushels per acre on half the field, the weeds should win as it costs too much to kill them. Go for economics over recreation (cosmetic) spraying.