Plan of attack: What's your plan A, B, and C for weed control this year?

The advent of herbicide tolerant crops has simplified herbicide selection and timing for those crops types, but that convenience doesn’t apply to all. Plus, the reliance on a few chemistries has left farmers with herbicide resistance issues of several weed types.

While the spectre of multi-resistant kochia or even worse weeds might seem insurmountable, Manitoba manager of agronomy services for Nutrien Ag solutions, Gary Topham says that switching up timing and having a back-up plan for weed control will go far in not just yield protection, but also resistance management.

Topham says that farmers taking a hard look at the herbicide routine on each field can likely find opportunities to nip resistance in the bud, but it will take pushing the comfort level somewhat. Flexibility on timing — like really pushing for post-harvest passes, or prioritizing pre-seed burn-down — and having a back-up plan in the form of tank-mixes and prioritizing fields work hand-in-hand for an effective kill.

Generational differences come into play here, too, as Topham says, there are many farmers moving in to the driver’s seat that haven’t had a tonne of experience with some herbicide groups, but it’s time to get comfortable with Group 3s, and Group 8s, Group 15 and more. Farmers need to figure out what these products do well, what they won’t work for, how they work best, what you need to be cautious of, and how to make sure they work as intended.

And what about other weed control strategies? The T word — tillage — gets brought up a lot, but Topham says we know now that tillage is really only effective control for a handful of weeds and not the ones we’re really worried about. Plus, the drawbacks of re-introducing tillage in a zero- or min-till production system far outweigh the benefits of these moisture- and soil-saving practices. But other cultural controls, such as increased seeding rate and earlier seeding, offer the crop that competitive edge from the start.

Hear more from Topham in this discussion with RealAg Radio’s Shaun Haney:

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