The months between this year’s harvest and next spring’s planting are prime time for winter annual weeds to take over fields.
In the Midwest, that can mean the return of tough-to-control weeds such as glyphosate-resistant marestail, which can cause a frustrating and costly headache.
Marestail is easiest to control when it’s small. However, when it grows taller than six inches, effective control with herbicides becomes much more difficult. A single surviving plant can produce as many as 200,000 seeds, exponentially increasing seeds in the seed bank and making marestail a weed farmers can expect to deal with year after year if not managed correctly.
Farmers aiming to avoid this situation – as well as control escaped weeds from the season – should consider implementing a fall burndown program.
“No farmer wants to start the spring with a field full of established weeds,” said Dan Westberg, Ph.D., Technical Market Manager, BASF. “A fall burndown lessens the amount of spring fieldwork needed and allows farmers an earlier opportunity to start planting.”
Eliminating Weeds, Slowing Resistance
Dense populations of winter annuals can physically interfere with planting and may slow soil drying, limiting the amount of time available for spring field operations.
Eliminating these weeds helps farmers plant earlier and gives crops more time to maximize their potential.
"Regardless of what they’ve experienced this year, with a fall burndown, growers will be able to start fresh in the spring,” said Westberg. “A fall burndown also helps farmers manage resistant weeds because it gives growers the chance to apply a different herbicide site of action to their fields.”
With herbicide-resistant weeds such as glyphosate-resistant marestail spreading throughout the region, weed management experts are more adamant than ever that farmers use a complete program that includes the use of multiple herbicide sites of action.
One option for a fall burndown is Sharpen herbicide, which has been shown to work three to five times faster than glyphosate and 2,4-D.
“Controlling tough winter annuals in the fall allows planting flexibility come spring,” Westberg said. “With the crop flexibility of Sharpen herbicide, farmers are able to plant the crops in the spring that can provide them the best return on their investment.”