Corn School: Controlling weeds in strip tillage

Strip tillage for corn continues to gain momentum as more growers cultivate strips to reduce total tillage and place seed and fertilizer in soil that warms faster prior to planting.

But what about weed control? How do growers keep yield-robbing weeds at bay in these cultivated strips and optimize the potential of the growing environment created by these soil berms?

On this episode of RealAgriculture’s Corn School, BASF agronomist Rob Miller shares insights learned from working with growers and the company’s research trials. He notes that if growers want to take advantage of soil-applied residual herbicides to control weeds in the strip, applying the herbicide pre-emerge, after planting, is the best option.

Miller explains that applying herbicide pre-plant can be problematic because as planter coulters push soil out of the row, it also takes away the herbicide that’s been applied to the soil. The planter closing system will push some of that soil back into the row, but often weeds will emerge at the centre or base of the corn row. These weeds then compete with the seedlings throughout the critical weed-free period, compromising yield.

“If you are looking for residual activity from within the strip, we recommend going pre-emergence,” says Miller.

When planting into a cover crop, Miller says the approach is similar, but growers will need to apply a burndown a week or two prior to planting. After the corn is planted they can then apply a herbicide pre-emerge for residual activity to keep the crop clean until canopy closure.

Click here for more Corn School episodes.

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