The time of year is rapidly approaching when producers should start thinking about protecting their farms with burndown and pre-emerge herbicides. All the moisture received across the High Plains in the last few months will contribute to early weed emergence. The idea of starting clean and staying clean is crucial to a successful farming operation. The weed pressure and resistance issues continue to build each year and the decisions made in the next 60 days, will greatly affect the yield potential and profitability on a farming operation.

As more and more farms are switching to limited tillage or no tillage in their program, they rely more on residual herbicides to keep their fields clean. The herbicides are applied, then incorporated with water to create a barrier that stops emergence of the targeted weed species. Along with applying a residual herbicide, it may be necessary to mix in a burndown herbicide to control weeds that have already emerged. The best timing for this application, would of course be very early on, as soon as weather indicates the first flush of weeds will likely emerge; late winter or early spring.

The chemistry has continued to improve with these pre-emerge and burndown herbicides as well over the years.  The days of lasting residual or effectiveness of the products has increased, giving producers a layer of coverage on their fields that will usually carry them until time to plant or close to it. Then, follow up applications of residual and post emerge herbicides can be made to keep the field clean season long.

There are many products and different ways to apply them when it comes time to use pre-emerge and burndown herbicides. In the past, it’s been common to till the field prior to planting, to eliminate weeds and create a good seedbed. This practice is still widely used and has some advantages. However, if the goal is to reduce tillage, then it is very important to use these herbicides early in the season. Many producers have experienced over the last few years, that once certain weeds emerge, they are extremely difficult to control. Visit with your Crop Quest Agronomist today and make these important decisions. Once again, the goal is to start clean and stay clean.

Written by Keaton Pope, Agronomist