Apply a pre-emergent herbicide before weeds cause trouble
When it comes to spring weed control, George Washington had it right: the best defence is a good offence. That means even if spring is cool and dry and you can’t see weeds anywhere, you still need to get out there before seeding.
You know what will happen if you skip this crucial step. You get the crop in and then it rains. Now, you’ve got cleavers clogging up that clean, weed-free field. Even worse, they’re outcompeting your crop for critical nutrients and moisture just as it’s emerging.
Weed seeds are notoriously resilient and will lie dormant in your soil for years – decades, even – just waiting for the right conditions to germinate and flourish. As a result, growers can get caught by big flushes of weeds after a cool, dry spring gives way to rain.
Protect early-season stand establishment
It comes down to being as proactive as possible by protecting that early-season stand establishment and getting your crop off to a weed-free start.
Applying a pre-emergent herbicide prior to seeding – even if you don’t see weeds – sets up a layer of control by forming a protective barrier at or near the soil surface.
Once in place, the pre-emergent herbicide offers long-lasting extended control of weeds before — or shortly after — they emerge. Some pre-emergent herbicides will sit on the soil surface until they are activated by moisture, so when you do get that shot of spring rain, it gets right to work, ideally at the same time as weeds are germinating.
Manage resistant weeds
Another major factor to consider is resistant weed management. Pre-emergent herbicides provide alternative modes of action, which tend to come from Groups 3, 8, 13, 14 and 15 to name a few. These target Group 1, 2 and 9 resistant weed populations and reduce the overall resistant weed seed bank in your field. Then, as you get into the season, far less pressure is placed on in-crop herbicides to clean up your fields.