Southern Spotlight: Evolving Your Strategy

James Banahan

James Banahan

I do a lot of driving around for my job.  I have to be here in the morning, there in the afternoon, and over there in the evening.  In between here, there, and over there, I see a whole lot of fields.  It’s kind of a nice perk of having to be so mobile: I have a pulse on what looks like what and how things are going.

And there are some weeds this year.  It has been a particularly tough year for weed control, and apparently, some of us didn’t win the fight as completely as we might have liked.  The heat and lack of moisture prevented many weeds from actively growing during the timespan for spraying, so our chemistries didn’t work as well as they would have otherwise.  At this point, there’s not much to be done about it, but that doesn’t mean that you need to retreat to your corner to lick your wounds.

Last week, I talked about education; about growing and changing.  And that’s exactly what’s to be done in moments like these: we learn from them.  So do that.  Take a look at your fields.  Focus on your herbicide program, and ask yourself: What did I learn this year?  What should I have learned that I didn’t? What did I forget that I need to remember for next time?

Whatever weed pressure you’re witnessing now in your fields is a good place to start.  What’s out there now is producing seeds, so you can be sure it’ll be back.  Consider the chink in your herbicide program that allowed the weed pressure to flourish this year, and, most importantly, consider what you can learn from it.  Your answer to that latter consideration is the answer to your potential weed issues next season.

Lately, the “solutions” to weed issues that we’ve been touting around hinge on overlapping residuals and attacking weeds via multiple modes and sites of action.  Some producers have listened and done very well.  Others have listened but struggled a little to make it work (perhaps a product went on at the wrong time or at the wrong rate).  Others have yet to adopt the strategy.  However much you’ve accepted the advice though, it is here to stay.  Weed control is still about product, but it is also about strategy.  Gone are the one-product-fits-all days.DSC_0033

So if you’re looking into your fields and seeing a lot of weeds, perhaps it’s time to jump on board this strategy.  If you’re looking into your fields and seeing a pretty clean crop, keep the strategy in mind still.  What works now won’t necessarily work in the future—as we’ve learned, we can burn out a chemistry—and your weed control strategy will have to continue to evolve to maintain its success.

This applies to me and my kind as much as it applies to you.  Agronomists are certainly guilty of overusing successful products.  The thinking goes that if it works, use it!  But reliance on one way of doing things can cause problems down the road, as we’re seeing in some milo fields that have been treated with the same chemistries for a decade now.  Those of us under 40 have never not known Roundup, so changing from a reliance on one surefire product to the strategic use of multiple products might be a big leap, but it’s worth it.

It’s necessary, in fact.  It’s imperative upon us to learn and then to evolve our operations and actions accordingly even though it can be tough to change.  I know that it is especially tough when corn is selling low, but our eyes and heads need to be on our fields instead of the markets, because unfortunately, whether commodity prices are at an all-time high or all-time low, the weeds do still grow.