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Set course for effective spring weed control

February 19, 2021

Looking back on 2020 is the first step for clean crops in 2021.

By: Willie Vogt

For the last few years, farmers have found that the “easy button” on weed control has been disconnected. The success of a postemergence program that got every weed doesn’t work that way anymore. This drives a growing need to build a more comprehensive plan for 2021.

Aaron Burke, director of Central U.S. Crops for Atticus LLC, talks with Farm Progress about spring weed control. And he started his talk with a lesson on record keeping.

“I think it starts with what we learned the prior year,” Burke says. “A lot of times you’re wrapping up harvest; you take notes recording where there were weed escapes.” Those records should include species of those escapes, which he says is a great baseline for building a solid foundation for weed control.

“You want to get the right preemerge herbicide matched to the right weed spectrum as early as possible,” he notes.

Atticus offers a broad line of post patent products, which Burke says provides producers a wide range of options. He knows that forward-thinking producers are tracking weeds and adds that they’ll find a lot more preemerge options and premixes available for control.

He notes that when herbicide-tolerant crops came along, it built a kind of “silver bullet” mentality regarding weed control. “As the weed spectrum shifted, farmers are finding that a foundation preemerge can maximize their yield potential,” Burke says.

Pick your herbicide

When you know your big problem weeds, whether its waterhemp, giant ragweed or johnsongrass, you can build that foundational program by choosing the herbicide most effective on the worst weeds you found in 2020.

Burke can rattle off active ingredient names as fast as anyone, noting that the starting point is your weed spectrum. Then select a product that has the level of control you need. Perhaps it’s an S-metolachlor, which Atticus sells as StreliuS II. He points out that a wide range of active ingredients are now available as post-patent products, offering users options.

He looks at the range of weeds and notes that the tankmix you build for that preemerge pass should try to hit all the target weeds. What works best on waterhemp early? Are you dealing with marestail or giant ragweed? “What is your broadleaf component you want to start with? Then build the foundation for the same level of control for grasses,” Burke says.

Atticus is retailer focused, which an approach Burke says won’t change. His role is working with retailers to expand the market, and in his position, he says most of his conversations for 2021 have centered on finding some of the better products to control waterhemp or giant ragweed. “We look at the new technology out there and how that fits the farm,” Burke says.

His discussion on preemerge focuses not only on the weed spectrum, but on the role of that practice to preserve the power of that postemergence product. Even if you’re using Enlist E3 or XtendFlex technology, a preemerge program is important.

“You can’t solely rely on that technology,” he observes. “If you do, you’ll exhaust it, and build resistance. Even the major manufacturers of these new technologies are recommending you start with a residual preemergence plan using multi-modes of action.

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