Southern Spotlight: Science, Not Hype

James Banahan

James Banahan

Every year, without fail, your favorite truck manufacturer rolls out a new model.  Mostly, it’s just an old model remixed.  The bumper used to be this shape, now it’s that.  The headlights used to do this, now they do that.  The blue that last year was called Lake is this year called Denim.

This isn’t to say that some of these tweaks aren’t awesome.  Some are.  But you’re never fooled that this year’s truck isn’t pretty much last year’s truck.  Their functionality is exactly the same.  Their marketing is different.

The same thing applies to herbicides.

So herbicides aren’t nearly as sexy as trucks, but business is business and companies rely on rolling out “new” products to stay relevant and robust.  Except there hasn’t been anything actually new in herbicides in over a decade.  Those “new” products are truly just mixes of old ones.

Businesses are very good at marketing though, so while these companies have very little newness to tout at all, you would never guess so from their marketing hype.  Every new product is marketed as an end-all-be-all, as a you-can’t-live-without.

Don’t be sold on hype.  Be sold on science.  Ignore the flashy labeling and turn the product around, see what’s in it.  You’ll see names of chemicals that you already recognize.

If you do find a product that you’re interested in, I don’t want to stop you from using it.  Like I said about trucks, some of the new tweaks are pretty sweet.  So go for it, as long as you understand what is in the product and how it will affect your operation.

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Because herbicide decisions affect crop rotation so taking the long view is vitally important.  Let’s use an old standby for example: Finesse requires an eighteen month wait between application and the planting of alfalfa and a twelve month wait before planting milo.  And you say you don’t want to plant sunflowers ever again?  Better lay off the Finesse.

Since these residual times exert such great consequences on your cropping intentions, future planning and record keeping are critical to a successful operation.  To make the best decisions for your operation, you need to know the history of herbicides in your fields.  Knowing this will prevent you from planting a crop that will be detrimentally affected by any residual.  To make the best decisions for your operation, you also need to know the flip side: what your future plans are.  Knowing what you plan to rotate into over the next 24 months (yes, that’s two whole years) will prevent you from selecting an herbicide that will interfere with your best laid plans.

If the idea of plotting two years ahead seems crazy or impossible, take the opportunity to sit with your FSA and discuss possibilities.  Planning so far in advance always requires some flexibility and adaptability as situations and conditions change, but taking the thirty thousand foot view now will set you into the future with a plan whose many parts work in harmony and unison.  Which is good for you, your sanity, your crops, your yield, and your bottom line.