Ok, let’s be honest, the last thing you want to think about this time of year are the weeds you will battle in the growing season ahead. But the truth is preparing for the weed pressures and building a management plan that is robust, as well as flexible, is every bit as important to your success as trait selection and nutrient planning. It’s about giving your crops a competitive advantage against weeds, delaying the evolution of herbicide resistance, and preserving herbicide technology, according the folks at the National Corn Growers Association.
You should craft your weed management plan with the notion that it can and should influence multiple growing seasons. Long-term herbicide-resistance management requires an outlook that goes beyond minimizing crop loss in any one season to understanding how your strategy this year can also set you up for success in subsequent years. It requires long-term strategies focused on delaying the evolution of herbicide resistance and reducing weed seed in your fields.
Effective herbicide-resistance management combines a variety of chemical and nonchemical management tactics to diversify selection pressure on weed populations and minimize the spread of resistance genes. Management like this starts with knowing your weeds, almost as well as you understand the crops you raise. It’s about knowing when they grow, when they pollinate and stopping them before they go to seed. It’s about recognizing their strengths and exploiting their weaknesses.
Even the best plans can be foiled by Mother Nature, equipment issues, and more. Making a plan that incorporates some flexibility is key to staying on top of weed pressures. Regardless of what the growing season throws at you, the following are some principles that should be guidelines for your weed management plan each year.
- Use full-rates for all pre and post applications
- Attack weeds when they’re under 4 inches
- Use multiple modes of action
- Scout and ID weeds
- Practice zero tolerance on escaped weeds
- Don’t ditch your ditches
- Clean equipment field to field
- Plant cover crops or incorporate tillage if chemical controls have failed
- Re-evaluate and repeat