Late Springs Can Test Herbicide Application Patience

Late Springs Can Test Herbicide Application Patience

A late spring has delayed field work for many Midwest farmers this year. It’s been difficult to make timely burndown applications ahead of planting. You may be wondering if and when you can get into the field to apply herbicides.


It can be tempting to skip your burndown, your preplanting herbicide application or even both in the desire to plant fields. You may decide to plant first and apply herbicide later.

The danger comes when you ignore good spraying opportunities to finish planting all your acres. But if weeds gain a foothold and grow too tall — such as marestail in soybeans — it’s very difficult to control them completely. If we get a day or two with good spraying conditions, we need to stop the planter and apply a preemergence herbicide.

The first thing to remember: Respect the weather. We can’t go into the field when conditions aren’t favorable. We can’t risk off-target movement. Avoid applying herbicides on windy days and take advantage of better spraying opportunities.

Here are some tips on getting the most out of your herbicide applications:

  • Use full rates: Using half rates just gives weeds more opportunity to survive. You can’t sell weeds. You need to control weeds to give crops a chance to deliver more of their yield potential.
  • Clean sprayers properly: Even if you’re in a hurry to get going, make sure to clean sprayers thoroughly according to the labels of the products used.
  • Increase modes of action: Some farmers may only have one shot at early season herbicide application. It’s important to use multiple modes of action for this application. Tank-mix approved herbicide partners that offer different modes of action. Use herbicides with residual activity.
    Scout your fields and come back with effective postemergence applications that control even your toughest weeds. Again, work to ensure you’re bringing multiple modes of action to bear against these weeds.
    Enlist Duo herbicide offers two modes of action: new 2,4-D choline and glyphosate. Enlist One herbicide, a straight-goods 2,4-D choline, provides additional flexibility with a wide choice of qualified nozzles and tank-mix partners. Both have Colex-D technology, providing near-zero volatility and reduced drift.
  • Follow the label: Check the herbicide label to ensure appropriate wind conditions, boom height, spray pressure, and sprayer speed as well as other requirements. Be aware of your surroundings and don’t make applications when potential for off-target movement exists. We have to be good stewards of any herbicide technology we use. My advice: Look twice before you spray.