Controlling glyphosate-resistant marestail in soybeans has been a big challenge for no-tillers in recent years. Because soybeans are generally planted later in the season, and marestail usually germinates in the fall or early spring, application timing and weed size are critical factors to successful control.
In the early spring, using a growth regulator herbicide like 2,4-D and/or dicamba is an inexpensive and effective option to control rosette marestail. Dicamba has provided better control than 2,4-D and will also provide some residual control, especially at higher use rates. A combination of the two will give broader spectrum weed control than either one alone.
In addition, using a herbicide with longer residual control of marestail helps with weeds that germinate between treatment and soybean planting. Products that include Canopy EX, Autumn Super, Classic, FirstRate, Sharpen, metribuzin or Valor can help provide residual control against several broadleaf species including marestail. However, it is very important to consult and follow the herbicide label guidelines for the required pre-plant intervals prior to planting soybeans.
As soybean planting nears, marestail control can become difficult because plants will have bolted and be considerably larger. Herbicides to apply as a burndown prior to planting include tank-mixes of glyphosate with FirstRate, Classic, Sharpen, Optill or 2,4-D. Be very careful to follow label directions when using 2,4-D prior to soybean planting because the plant-back restriction ahead of soybean can be from 7-30 days.
Sharpen generally provides good marestail control and can be applied any time before soybean emergence. However, it is still most effective if applied before marestail starts to bolt, in a tank-mix with other herbicides, when used with methylated seed oil, and at spray volumes of 15 gallons per acre or more.
One additional herbicide to consider as a rescue burndown application to control bolting marestail prior to soybean planting is Liberty. Although, it would be better to control marestail at an earlier stage of growth, Liberty has been one of the most effective herbicides to control bolting marestail. Liberty also has broad-spectrum, non-selective activity on other broadleaf and grass species, if treated at a young growth stage. Liberty is primarily a contact herbicide, so a spray volume of 15 gallons per acre or greater generally provides the most consistent weed control. Liberty tends to work best under higher humidity and warm sunny conditions at application.
Controlling marestail in the growing soybean crop can be the biggest challenge for no-tillers. Glyphosate alone is often not effective on larger plants or glyphosate-resistant marestail. The most successful treatments for large marestail in Roundup Ready soybeans have been with combinations of glyphosate + FirstRate, glyphosate + Classic, or glyphosate + Synchrony. However, some marestail may also be resistant to Classic, FirstRate and Synchrony, and control may be marginal.
Another option to control marestail in soybeans is to plant Liberty Link soybeans and use Liberty herbicide. It is important to remember that Liberty can only be applied post-emergence on Liberty Link soybeans.