It sounds like a broken record, but wet weather continues to hamper harvesting – as well as wheat planting – over much of the nation. And no reminder’s needed that weeds follow rain no matter when it falls – and that a good weed-control program is a must.
Texas AgriLife Extension agronomists and other crop specialists have mapped out a guide for solid weed control in wheat.
“Weeds may be controlled in cropland through cultural, mechanical and chemical means,” says Brent Bean, Texas AgriLife Extension agronomist in Amarillo. “Judicious use of these methods individually or in combination can effectively manage weeds without causing economic loss or environmental harm.”
Agronomists say that selecting the proper management strategy depends largely on the target weeds and the infestation level. Here are their suggestions:
- Use weed-free seed to protect against weed infestations in the row and the introduction of new weed species.
- Thoroughly clean harvesting equipment before moving from one field to the next, or require custom harvesters to clean their equipment before entering the field.
- In conventional tillage systems, use mechanical tillage or preplant burndown herbicides to remove initial weed flushes before planting. This will reduce or eliminate the potential for continued infestation.
- Rotate crops that physically outcompete certain weeds, resulting in their gradual decline. Remove light or spotty infestations of weeds by hand hoeing or spot cultivation to prevent weed seed production and the spread of rhizomes or roots.
- When plowing perennial weeds, take care to prevent the transport and spread of plant parts to other areas of the field.
- Employ integrated weed-management strategies. Use herbicides only when necessary, and combine their use with mechanical, cultural or biological methods.
- Rotate or mix herbicides with different modes of action.
- If possible, rotate crops where herbicide rotations are feasible.
- Scout fields regularly for resistant weed populations and control the weed escapes (treat them as you would a newly established invasive species).