Early Control Key to Stopping Foxtail

A basic plan with pre-emergent herbicides should be enough to keep giant foxtail from dinging yields.

Editor’s note: This is the sixth in a series of articles about nine of the most troublesome weeds and tips for eradicating them from your no-till operation. NTF Weeds

Foxtail is a prevalent foe in the northern and eastern Corn Belt, reported by the Weed Science Society of America as the fifth most common weed dealt with by farmers, although it’s not ranked among the most troublesome.

While most farmers appear to manage giant, green or yellow foxtail well, you might call them weeds of opportunity: weather issues, soil nutrient imbalances or just plain laziness with an herbicide program can lead to quick growth of foxtail stands.

In most cases, carefully selected pre-emergent and burndown herbicides should be enough to control foxtail, says Penn State University Extension weed scientist Bill Curran. “Foxtail is one of those weeds where if you spend any time at all thinking about how to manage it, you should be able to control it,” he says.

Staying Power

Foxtail is a summer annual that emerges in spring and sets seed in late summer or fall and then dies. Although green, yellow and giant foxtail can be found in agricultural fields, giant foxtail is the most prevalent, Curran says.

Giant foxtail emerges after lambsquarters and ragweed, coming up from soil depths of less than 1 inch, and its period of emergence is lengthy, adds a fact sheet from Michigan State University Extension. Plants produce an average 900 seeds per plant.

Giant foxtail seed is moderately persistent depending on management…

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John dobberstein2

John Dobberstein

John Dobberstein is senior editor of No-Till Farmer magazine and the e-newsletter Dryland No-TillerHe previously covered agriculture for the Tulsa World and worked for daily newspapers in Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Joseph, Mich. He graduated with a B.A. in journalism and political science from Central Michigan University.

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