Planning for 2013 Crops Following a Drought

Experts offer insight into herbicide management for the growing season immediately following a drought.

Soil moisture is on the minds of growers as they plan for 2013. While the late-season moisture in 2012 didn't benefit the corn, it does aid the dissipation of residual herbicides. Crop Science offers advice on how growers can prepare for 2013.

Maintaining Soil Moisture

Moisture is on the minds of growers as they plan for 2013. And it isn't just the possible subsoil moisture shortage. It's also how moisture during the season affects dissipation of residual herbicides and any impact there might be on crops planted in 2013.

Moisture during the season affects dissipation of residual herbicides, this can impact crops planted in 2013

Don't Overlook the Label

Residual products like Corvus® and Capreno® herbicides provide corn growers with excellent weed control, and the moisture received most seasons contributes to their timely dissipation. While the late-season moisture that came after those herbicides were applied last year didn't really benefit the corn, it does aid the dissipation of residual herbicides.

“For growers to gain comfort about the dissipation of residual herbicides, they need to look at their herbicide application records and then review the product labels,” said Brent Philbrook, Crop Science regional manager for field development. He's responsible for much of the Midwest and Northeast—areas hard hit by the drought.

Additional Considerations

Labels for residual products are just the starting point for a discussion, Philbrook notes. “You have to consider everything in the tank because another product could have greater restrictions for follow crops.” Atrazine in the tankmix is a prime example, he said. A product used sequentially also needs to be reviewed for any restrictions.

“For growers to gain comfort about the dissipation of residual herbicides, they need to look at their herbicide application records and then review the product labels.” – Brent Philbrook

Moisture limitations also need to be considered for corn that is planted after soybeans. In recent years, soybean growers have faced some weed resistance. To take on those tough challenges, many growers are using products like ALS, and particularly PPO-inhibitors they may not have used in the past, Philbrook said. ”They need them now.”

“For instance, if they are treating resistant amaranth, they may find as they read the product label that there may be some carryover that will affect their next corn crop,” he points out. Minimum moisture requirements will be noted on those labels, too.

Timing is Key

While moisture has been top of mind for most growers, don't forget about the timing of herbicide applications. “Sun and heat have contributed to degradation since the products were applied, especially for pre-emergence applications made near planting. Although the herbicides have residual characteristics there has been a lot of elapsed time toward the dissipation of the active ingredient,” Philbrook said.

Residual products like Corvus® and Capreno® herbicides provide corn growers with excellent weed control, and the moisture received most seasons contributes to their timely dissipation.

Jim Bloomberg, Crop Science product development manager for corn and soybeans, fungicides and herbicides, points out, “PPO chemistries take longer to break down in the soil than Corvus herbicide.” He encourages corn growers to discuss any concerns with their crop consultants and agricultural retailers as they plan for 2013.

Different Regions, Different Soil

Soil pH can also be a factor in herbicide dissipation. “Soils in much of the Midwest are near neutral to slightly acidic and we would expect a herbicide to degrade at a predictable pace on these soils,” Philbrook said. “However, in areas where the soil pH is above 7.5, the dissipation time for certain herbicides can be extended.” A look at product labels will note the extended time of higher pH limits.

Testing for Herbicide Residues

Bioassays may be another planning aid for 2013. There are two methods growers can use to gain additional information:

  1. Submit soil samples to soil laboratories for chemical or bioassays to see if an active ingredient is still present to affect a sensitive rotation crop.
  2. Set up a simple soil assay using soils collected from areas such as end rows or boom overlap areas, as well as weedy and less weedy areas. Plant the rotation crop seed, place the soil in a warm and sunny spot to grow, and then evaluate the plants.

Finally, the sensitivity of follow crops to specific herbicides needs to be considered. The interval for planting typical follow crops is also stated on every product label.

Bloomberg summarizes steps to take in proactive planning for 2013 crops:

  • Consider all herbicide products used during 2012, whether in a tankmix or applied sequentially.
  • Look for hybrids or varieties that are a little more tolerant to a specific chemistry.
  • Wait to plant until the seedbed is in the best possible condition—don't plant in cold and wet soil.

Works Cited

  • Philbrook, Brent. Interview by Amy McEvoy. Phone interview. 1 Nov. 2012.
  • Bloomberg, Jim. Interview by Amy McEvoy. Phone interview. 5 Nov. 2012.

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