Southern Spotlight: Fall Burndown

James Banahan

James Banahan

With harvest soon upon us, it’s time to evaluate our rotation plan.  In the land of wheat, one crop’s closing is always another’s opening, so rotation is uniquely significant here.  Your plan has far-reaching implications, particularly on your chemical program and, right now, particularly on your plans for a fall burndown.

Kansas is downright dotted with all sorts of weeds looking to sap the moisture from our soil.  We’ve got marestail, pennycress, dandelions galore, and henbit, which might be kind of cute but is nonetheless an evil, thirsty little thing.  Controlling these characters now in the fall will be good for your health later in the spring when weeds left to their own devices will be six months old and nearly invincible.

I know.  You’re considering the expense of a fall burndown.  I could make you a return-on-investment argument, but in all honesty, a fall burndown is not about saving or making money.  It’s about investing against resistance issues in the future.  But if you want to talk about money, then yeah, you can be sure that preventing resistance issues will save you some serious cash in the future.

Marestail

Marestail

Resistance isn’t something we want to cultivate among our weed populations, though it’s easy to do inadvertently.  One grower last year simply didn’t get to the marestail in his soybean fields after doing a burndown on his corn acres.  You can imagine the result.  He was able to kill about 60% of the weeds in March, then address the remaining 40% with a rescue treatment in June and all was looking pretty good, until August when they popped through the canopy after a big rain.  His slight miscalculation of time in the fall produced a very hearty and robust crop of marestail that survived not one but two chemical applications.

Because six-month-old weeds are super tough to kill.

In addition to preventing resistance issues, completing a fall burndown has many other benefits for your acres.  Killing weeds now will save you moisture over the winter, which is especially important given how dry it’s been.  Addressing weed issues now will also allow you to get into your fields earlier in the spring since you won’t have to wait out a residual.  Lastly, clean ground warms easier in the spring, so preventing a spring weed cover makes for a better seed bed sooner.

If you’re reading this and thinking about your time—or your lack of it—a little prioritizing might be in order.  Trouble fields and any acre going to beans should be the first you address as beans leave you fewer chemical options than corn or milo.  But truly, the task isn’t so great that you can’t get it all done.  How your harvest goes and how much of the work you do yourself can complicate your timeline, but that’s where your friendly co-op can help in a pinch.DSC_0343

Your rotation impacts your fall burndown options, but there’s something to fit every acre and all rotations.  And any future crop will benefit from the moisture a fall burndown will save and the more-quickly-warm ground that will follow in the spring.  If you’re interested but uncertain what would best suit your operation, let us know.  Even if you’re still figuring out your rotation, your FSA can guide you through options that will fit your plans.