Farmers, researchers rate new herbicide Lee and Lyle Wendel were among the first farmers to try Degree Xtra, a new pre-plant or pre-emergent corn herbicide that's activated by soil temperature. They liked what they saw.

Degree Xtra is a combination of encapsulated acetochlor premixed with atrazine. It's a unique technology that releases increasing amounts of acetochlor as the soil temperature rises above 50. No acetochlor is released below 50.

The atrazine is not encapsulated and begins acting immediately.

The Wendel brothers, Mendota, IL, were looking for a one-pass herbicide that could handle both grasses and broadleaf weeds. They had read about Degree Xtra and wanted to try it.

"It held up well, even with our heavy rains," says Lyle. "It's the best one-shot performance I've ever seen."

Jeff Seier, certified crop advisor with the West Brooklyn (IL) Farmers Co-op, also was impressed.

"We had only a limited supply of the product, but it did a good job where it was used," Seier reports. "There were few grass escapes and only some light, late velvetleaf in the Wendels' field."

Producer Jeff Bohaty, Seward, NE, is another early Degree Xtra user who says it has two advantages.

"The encapsulation and temperature release make it safer for the crop," he notes. "And it gets two of our toughest weeds, waterhemp and black nightshade, along with the grasses.

"We have lots of seed corn production in our area and the seed companies are looking at Degree Xtra for the safety factor. That tells me something."

University of Wisconsin weed scientist Chris Boerboom tested Degree Xtra in 2000. "Its performance on giant foxtail was very similar to Bicep Lite II Magnum and to acetochlor-atrazine products like FulTime, but not superior to them," Boerboom reports. "In 2000, at least, it did not stand out in our plots."

At Western Illinois University, weed scientist Gordon Roskamp has compared Degree (same as Degree Xtra but without atrazine) with Harness (conventional acetochlor) for several years. "In my experience, it has provided greater long-term residual activity than Harness against giant foxtail," he reports.

In 2000, Roskamp applied Dual II Magnum, Axiom, TopNotch, Degree, Harness, Surpass, Frontier, Outlook and Balance on May 4, simulating a normal corn planting date. He didn't plant corn but did seed giant foxtail on May 4, May 18, June 1, June 15 and June 29. It was very dry.

Roskamp rated foxtail control at six intervals from June 5 through Aug. 23. Except for the earliest rating date, Degree performed as well as, or better than, the other products.

Ohio State University researchers report that, in their studies, Degree and Degree Xtra have appeared to provide longer grass control compared to other acetochlor products.