Successful weed control starts in the spring

April 26, 2022
An effective weed control strategy stops weeds before they can compete for resources. Corey Klaphake, CHS agronomy technical product specialist, offers these spring weed control tips.

When input prices are high, it’s important to get the most from every dollar. That makes early season weed control a crucial part of protecting yield potential.

“With higher input prices and supply chain issues this season, farmers need to find value where they can,” says Corey Klaphake, CHS agronomy technical product specialist. “Effective weed control this spring, when there are a lot more options and flexibility with herbicides, will be key to maximizing the investments they’ve made in their crops.”

Achieve effective burndown

Getting crops off to a good start means introducing as little stress as possible, and burndown applications can provide a clean seedbed for the critical stages of early plant growth, Klaphake says.

“In a traditional burndown situation, you’re probably looking at no-till acres where weeds might have grown from last fall and this spring, so you want to get rid of those weeds prior to planting,” he notes. “Make sure you’re using a herbicide product or a mix with up to three sites of action and residual activity, so you’re lengthening the window of control to target both emerged weeds and those yet to germinate.”

Tillage can be an effective weed-control method, but Klaphake notes that tilled acres should still receive a preemergence herbicide application to buy some time before a postemergence application is necessary.

Follow up with a postemergence application

Even when burndown or preemergence herbicide applications successfully suppress early season weed emergence, it’s important to keep scouting fields, says Klaphake.

“Postemergence herbicide options are more limited than preemergence herbicides, so monitoring weed height and species is critical as the season continues,” he says. “Also use the correct sprayer nozzles, pressures, boom heights and drift-control products to keep your applications on target. Not only will this improve herbicide efficacy, but it will also ensure input dollars are well spent.”

Klaphake also recommends paying close attention to product chemistry, particularly to understand contact or systemic action. These products act differently and need different management techniques. Contact herbicides require significant water volume and a medium-sized droplet nozzle to ensure proper coverage for post-emergent weed control, he explains.

“Perhaps most importantly for postemergence herbicide applications is to include a soil residual product in the tank mix. This will help prevent weeds from growing later and ideally get you all the way to canopy close and less worry about weed pressure,” says Klaphake.

“In some instances, you still might have to apply some type of cleanup herbicide, but using these strategies and being diligent about scouting will go a long way toward successful weed control in 2022.”