Soil health remains a top-of-mind concern for many crop and dairy farmers. With spring planting season beginning, it’s important to take proper steps before and after planting to better control waterhemp.
Rodrigo Werle, UW-Extension Cropping Systems Weed Specialist, says it’s very hard to control waterhemp once it’s established. He provides advice on how to handle this weed and the impact it can have on your yield.
“Waterhemp has evolved resistance to many common herbicides we apply post emergence and is very hard to control post emergence,” says Werle. “When not properly managed, it affects your yield but it also impacts the way farmers need to think about how they manage weeds.”
Werle says it’s important to not let the planter get too far ahead of the sprayer. He says when planting soybeans, be sure to use effective herbicides that have residual activity for waterhemp and have a solid plan that as soon as the crop is in the ground, the herbicides will be sprayed.
After that initial herbicide is applied, you can start scouting the fields in about three to four weeks as waterhemp emerges. That’s the ideal time to be triggering an effective post-emergence application. If waterhemp is a problematic weed at that time of post emergence application, Werle suggests that growers include a residual herbicide for a layered approach.
“I urge growers to check the labels and know planting intervals from your application to your next crop before they begin spraying,” says Werle. “I also recommend using at least two herbicides at the right rate and changing them so you’re not using the same thing over and over as that’s how we promote resistance.”
He is conducting research on farmers adopting cover crops and is learning that if you manage them properly and accumulate enough biomasses, it helps with weed management. He says having a combination of chemical and non-chemical strategies is a more sustainable approach to weed management.
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