Farmers battle clock, weeds in spring planting season

URBANA, Ill. – With a warm, dry stretch of weather, Illinois farmers are racing to get corn and soybean crops planted. University of Illinois Extension Weed Scientist Aaron Hager spoke with Media Communications Specialist Todd Gleason about concerns that planting may outpace the ability of sprayers to keep up with weeds. That will cause some timing issues for producers that may put their crops at risk.

As you’ve been looking at fields in east-central Illinois there are some issues with weed control that producers should consider. What’s the lay of the land?

There’s so much activity going on in fields now that farmers finally have some optimal planting conditions to try to catch up and get the crop in the ground. When it comes to weed control, the ideal scenario is that ideally all weed vegetation has been controlled before planting. We do that by either burndown herbicide applications in a no-till or limited till scenario or tillage or some combination of those two.

However, it’s likely that’s not happening everywhere. I saw an example of this driving into work, of a field that was being planted that had not been worked nor had any herbicide been applied so they were planting into a very weedy field. We understand the urge to plant is there, but just remember these weeds now are well established and large. These weeds can adversely impact crop yields very quickly. It’s not like we have several weeks to get them under control, we have a few days before we need to be sure that we can get this herbicide applied to get this vegetation under control.

What are the issues that producers will be facing? What herbicides might they have to use?

In that scenario, we’ve planted into existing vegetation without any kind of weed control practice. If the option now is simply going to be to use an herbicide, we need to make sure whatever the product is has enough foliar activity to control that existing vegetation by itself and if it does we need to add a tank mix partner to help control that vegetation throughout the first early weeks of the growing season

If days are suitable, planting will move very quickly. Are there issues about timing that you’re worried about?

We are a state that is very heavy in custom application of pesticides. In other words, while the farmers are planting, they are relying on custom applicators to come back across that field if it’s not previously been treated. We need to really understand and be aware that whatever that herbicide is that we have selected whether or not it has to be applied before that crop beings to emerge. Is it pre only? Or other products might allow for a pre-only application and or an early post-application. We have concerns about products that must be applied before any portion of a corn or soybean plant begins to emerge.

Listen to the full interview Later Planting, Weed Control, & Timing Issues online.

 

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