Heavy weed cover in the spring causes the soil to remain cool longer, delaying tillage and planting. The winter annuals may also provide a nest for insects that attack emerging crops. In addition, if spring brings cold, wet conditions again next year, you will have a limited window for field preparation before planting.

“In the fall, you should assess your weed control program and determine which fields are going to need more attention than others,” recommends Hoss. “In areas such as Illinois and Indiana, a fall herbicide application may be beneficial because it provides a different mode of action for weed control.”

Fall herbicide applications provide greater spring flexibility and improved weed control of winter annuals. Burndown and residual applications in the fall help prevent weeds from producing seeds in the spring, giving you a head start on weed control.

Remember that a number of factors influence spring weed growth, and fall applications may not always eliminate the need for a spring burndown treatment. Be sure to factor in weed populations and planting schedules when developing an effective control program.

Additional management considerations

Depending on harvest timing, additional fall management practices can be beneficial as you set the stage for 2014. These may include crop rotation, cover crops and fall tillage, which generally tend to be a multiyear decision based on personal preferences and specific to your farm.


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