Weeding Out No-Till Challenges

North Carolina grower Jimmy Thomas uses a combination of no-till practices to tackle weeds, rocks and marginal soils.

Above photo: WEED AND SOW. North Carolina no-tiller Jimmy Thomas makes the second of three herbicide applications while planting corn. A tank mounted on the front of his tractor pumps Gramoxone to the spray nozzles fixed to the back of the planter.

By Jimmy Thomas

As interviewed by Martha Mintz

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NAME: Jimmy Thomas

LOCATION: Timberlake, N.C.


ACRES: 3,000

CROPS: Corn, Soybeans, Wheat, Tobacco and Hogs

Weeds were one of the first challenges we faced when my father made the switch to no-till.

Learning to manage weeds has been a critical part of our no-till success, and continues to be an important area for our management attention. And since weeds are so capable of change — especially with changing crops and systems — it’s a learning process that never stops, it seems.

Our first no-till crop was corn. It snowed a week after we planted, so we definitely got off to an interesting start. We pushed onward and spent 15 years no-tilling corn and soybeans, initially with an International 800 series corn planter, one of the first implements truly designed for no-till.

Jimmy Thomas

When we stopped chisel plowing, deep-rooted perennial weeds including multiflora rose, sand briars (Carolina horsenettle) and trumpet creeper really took off. We had to tackle those deep-rooted, tough plants with a variety of products and be diligent to get them out of our system. It was quite a task because we didn’t have glyphosate yet and we certainly didn’t have glyphosate-tolerant…

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