Prevented plant acreage will most likely mean high weed pressure in 2016.

Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”  I think that statement is appropriate for where we are with weed management right now in Missouri—if we don’t plan accordingly, the problems experienced this year could lead to even greater problems next year. This year more than 1.5 million acres of cropland were never planted as a result of the continually wet conditions experienced from April through July. Most of this acreage was left fallow without any sort of weed management program and these fields grew up into a weedy mess. These weeds have matured and produced viable seed that, in most cases, have already been deposited back into the soil seedbank. The primary weed I have seen in most of these fields is waterhemp, which produces about 300,000 to 500,000 seed per plant.  I have also seen plenty of fields infested with marestail (a.k.a. horseweed, Conyza canadensis), ragweed species, and grasses like giant foxtail and fall panicum—all of which are also capable of high seed production.  In short, the number of weed seed sitting in the soil seedbank waiting to germinate and wreak  havoc next year may be unlike anything we’ve ever experienced before. And as Mr. Franklin put it, we must have a plan or we might suffer the consequences.

So where do you start?  How can you be ready to tackle the potential problems that exist in your fields right now?  In this  article, I suggest a stepwise approach for selecting your soybean herbicide program for the 2016 season. But remember that herbicides shouldn’t be the only component of your weed management program – we have to think beyond herbicides for weed management, and this includes cultural control methods like narrow row spacings, optimum planting populations, crop rotation, cover crops, and tillage where appropriate. These cultural control practices need to be combined with an effective herbicide program to achieve the best weed control possible.

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AUTHOR: Dr. Kevin Bradley, State Weed Specialist
(573) 882-4039