ReachOut: Old School Weed Control

ReachOut: Old School Weed Control from United Farmers Cooperative on Vimeo.

Mike Zwingman

Mike Zwingman

I spent a few days in the South last week and as we drove from the airport to the hotel, I looked around and saw some kudzu and thought, Cool, kudzu.  Then I saw more of it.  And more.  And there was a moment that I saw it creeping over the roof of a house and thought, Uh oh.

We introduced kudzu to the South in the 1930s to prevent erosion.  Our intentions were good, but kudzu is an invasive species that does what weeds do best: grow, a lot.  So it did and it overran the place.  At some point, someone in the past must have been driving around as I was last week, watching the kudzu climb trees and swallow barns and had my very same thought: uh oh indeed.

We’re fortunate in Nebraska not to have a problem of such magnitude.  Yet.  We don’t have a kudzu, but what we do have is a group of herbicide resistant weeds (five of them) that should make us wonder.  We need to have that uh oh moment before it’s too late.

These weeds are resistant not only to Roundup but are resistant to multiple modes of action.  If left unchecked, they will lower the value of your cropland.  And if allowed to establish themselves in your fields, the logistics of a rescue treatment are tricky and the costs high.

It’s an old-timey saying, but with such weeds, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.

And an old-timey saying is more than appropriate here because we need to do some old-timey thinking about this problem.  Members of the 32/24 generation, listen up!  Roundup isn’t the cure all it once seemed and tackling our weed issues before they enter kudzu proportions is going to require a little old school moxie.

The first step toward a solution is changing the way we think about weeds.  We need to move toward adopting a zero tolerance policy on weeds.  There is no good weed, not even an okay weed or a passable weed.  Weeds need to be dead.  I never want to see an economic threshold chart for weeds again.  This is not about economics.  This is about domination.

Secondly, we need to act.  We need to correctly identify the species in our weed populations and select products with the right modes of action to address any resistance.  This means tank mixing.  Whatever concoction we end up with needs to be applied as early as possible—since small weeds are easier to kill than big ones—and we need to follow up our treatment with an after-actions report seven to ten days later to double check that nothing survived.

Finally, repeat after me: rotate, layer, overlap.  This is our integrated plan for socking it to our weeds through the magic of chemistry.  Rotate means that we will rotate herbicides with different modes and sites of action in order to interrupt the life cycle of a weed at any opportunity.  Layer means that we will apply products with different modes and sites of action at the same time.  Overlap means that we will use both contact and residual herbicides to extend our protection as long as possible.

If that leaves you thinking, Great, but what do I do again? then never fear.  In just a few short weeks, every UFC location will post a handy chart to help you navigate the plan and best rotate modes and sites of action in your field.

Header1For most weeds, it takes five years of control to eliminate the seed bank.  It will take a tenacious drive on our parts to accomplish this, but we’re fighting the good fight, and we have the plan and the chemistry on our side.  The days of drones zapping our weeds for us aren’t quite here yet, so we must take matters into our own hands.  The next time you see a weed, show it no mercy, my friend.  Even if it means bending down and yanking that sucker out of the ground.

For more Weed resistance facts visit:

  • Gene Sedivy

    Thanks Mike, you are right on with your comments.