Marestail rising 2-feet tall, thriving patches of lambsquarters and robust pigweed are becoming a greater threat to no-till yields. A fall-applied pre-plant herbicide may be just the thing to help no-tillers start spring with a clean field.
For many no-tillers who have historically relied on spring burndowns for weed control, a fall program is a new approach. The practice is gaining popularity and is becoming an attractive technique in no-till systems, says Trey Koger, Mississippi State University soybean specialist.
“Tilling is one way of managing weeds, but if you take tillage out of the equation, fall application is going to be that much more important in controlling winter weeds,” Koger says. “Fall applications are a good marriage with no-till.”
A major issue for no-tillers is delayed planting due to wet, cold field conditions. When Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate during planting, no-tillers can face a rough season.
Incorporating a pre-plant herbicide earlier in the season gives farmers more leeway if poor weather conditions tighten the schedule to complete spring planting and other related projects.
Kelly Cooper, farm manager of the Conservation Cropping Systems Project at Cogswell, N.D., examined the impact of fall herbicide sprays on weed control vs. delayed spring burndown applications.
“We saw how poor weather conditions can definitely be a nightmare for no-tillers,” Cooper says. “We used Valor in our fall herbicide plots. Where we didn’t make a fall spray, the plots were a mess.
“I had to wait several weeks to plant because of the cold…