Play Defense in Herbicide Programs

Gaining control of weeds will take more planning this season, especially if you’re planning to use more volatile herbicide formulations. Remember best management practices while planning applications and use smart defense when it comes to potential drift issues.

Think ahead and communicate to avoid damaging your crops or your neighbors’ crops.

“If you damage your neighbor’s field you can’t take it back, so it’s vital to understand the area you are applying, identify the sensitive areas and sensitive crops and adhere to the downwind buffer as the label requires,” says Jean Payne, president of the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association. 

Herbicide labels require applicators to check for sensitive crops before application. Tools such as www.Field are free but require a username and password. Once logged in, you can access the DriftWatch portion and view the type and location of registered sensitive specialty crops. Many organic farms, vineyards and other specialty crops are registered. 

The website can be used to identify herbicide-sensitive areas. Keep in mind, however, not all sensitive areas will be on the website. For example, non-GMO soybeans are not considered a specialty crop and will not be identified. This means you still need to pick up the phone and call neighbors. 

Decide what your postemergent options are before you spray a pre-emergent herbicide. 

“Multiple herbicide-resistant weeds can double or triple your budget if you have to send in a rescue treatment,” says Bill Johnson, University of Purdue Extension weed scientist.

You need to make sure you’re not applying the same mode of action over and over in pre- and postemergent applications. Know the types of weeds in your fields and potential resistance.

For example, if you have glyphosate-, ALS- and PPO-resistant waterhemp you need to look at options such as glufosinate, HPPD inhibitors or auxin inhibitors (2,4-D or dicamba) for postemergent control. This could affect seed choice and pre-emergent herbicides. Plan ahead to make sure both pre- and postemergent herbicide applications are effectively killing the weeds in your fields to avoid sending in a rescue treatment.

“Many herbicides have restrictions based on crop growth and aren’t meant to kill big weeds,” Johnson adds. “Rescue treatments also mean you’re driving over mature crops and there isn’t much hope to recover yields so chances of being successful are low.”

Make sure you get the maximum ROI from your weed control program by thinking through pre- and post-emergent application chemistries. 

Ask Before You Spray Dicamba

Reach out to experts with questions to avoid potential damage.

  • “Find out what products, if any, can be tank mixed with the chemistry farmers want to use,” says Brian Kuehl, West Central Distribution director of product development. For example, you can’t use ammonia containing adjuvants with XtendiMax herbicide.
  • If there’s something on your herbicide label that’s confusing or raises questions, reach out for help, says Ryan Rector, Monsanto technology development manager for dicamba. For example, temperature inversions and how to identify them might be unclear to you. Talk to someone who can help you learn to avoid them.
  • “Become familiar with the supplemental labels and any additional state requirements,” says Chad Asmus, BASF technical marketing manager. Certain states have additional requirements (see page 16).
  • Ask if there are educational programs, says Bob Wolf, owner of Wolf Consulting and Research LLC, who created the On Target Application Academy with BASF, an educational program for proper herbicide application. Other companies have similar programs.

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