Researchers agree starting clean is key to higher yields


As the calendar turned the page to 2021, Syngenta turned to its panel of a dozen university agricultural experts for insights on how to both prepare for a growing season with higher yields and implement weed management practices that will pay dividends for years to come.

Researchers emphasize that early-season weed management is the key. “The biggest point that has been reinforced through our research is the value of early-season weed control,” said Charlie Cahoon, Ph.D., extension weed specialist at NC State University. “We have seen a 13- to 33-bushel yield advantage in corn when we start the season clean with a preemergent followed by a timely post-emergent herbicide, compared to a post-emergent-only system.”

“Weeds are going to compete with the crop, whether it’s corn or soybeans,” added Mark VanGessel, Ph.D., extension weed specialist at the University of Delaware. “They are taking up nutrients and moisture and intercepting light that the crop requires for photosynthesis. Responding to that weed competition, crops will alter their growth habits, and that can affect yield.”

Syngenta herbicide experts consulted with these leading university researchers to underscore the tough reality that weed management is an ongoing challenge with implications far beyond the upcoming growing season.

“It’s more about weed management than weed control,” said Mark Kitt, herbicide technical product lead for Syngenta. “There are long-term implications of effective management: not adding to the soil seed bank and ensuring that even after harvest you are managing weeds so you have a clean field and are preserving the land for future generations. To achieve this, the first step is applying a very strong residual product, whether for corn or soybeans, to start clean.”

Crop rotation is also a factor in the weed management equation. “If you grow a clean crop, whatever you’re rotating to is going to be much appreciative that you didn’t rotate weeds into it,” noted Wayne Keeling, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research Center at Lubbock. “So that’s all the more reason to do the best job you can in each crop so that you’re not making it more difficult for the rotational crop.”

To achieve the highest yield potential, Syngenta offers a portfolio of weed management solutions for both corn and soybeans. “Acuron corn herbicide is formulated for the concerns expressed by our researcher panel,” said Steve Gomme, herbicide product marketing lead for Syngenta. “It helps growers by delivering four active ingredients, including Syngenta-exclusive bicyclopyrone, and three effective sites of action. When used preemergence at full labeled rates, it helps farmers achieve 5 to 15 more bushels an acre versus any other corn herbicide.”

“The worst thing you can do is get complacent,” cautioned Bill Johnson, Ph.D., professor of weed science at Purdue University. “Staying on top of weed control and herbicide resistance is all about making those subtle changes before you have to make drastic changes.”

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