5 Tips for Effective Early Season Weed Control

Cotton growing in the early season phase

There’s no doubt about it: Weeds cause problems whenever they appear.

But early season weed pressure may be the most detrimental to a cotton grower's bottom line. Cotton plants need every advantage they can get to make a successful start, and problem weeds, such as pigweed, can grow 1 to 2 inches per day under the right environmental conditions. Growers can quickly end up in tough situations, but solutions are available to control early season weeds in cotton.

Best Management Practices

During the first eight to 10 weeks the crop is in the ground, growers should make it a habit to check fields every couple of days.

Additionally, the Herbicide Resistance Action Committee provides comprehensive guidelines for growers seeking to manage weed resistance. Here are five important steps to consider:

  • Apply integrated weed management practices and use multiple herbicide sites of action in the field.
  • Start with a clean field and control weeds early by using a burndown treatment or tillage in combination with a pre-emergence residual herbicide as appropriate.
  • Use the full-recommended herbicide rate and proper application timing.
  • Scout fields after herbicide application to ensure control has been achieved. Avoid allowing weeds to reproduce by seed.
  • Use cultural practices such as cultivation and crop rotation, where appropriate.

S.T.O.P Weeds with Liberty Program for Maximum Control

Growers understand the importance of a system that works on a broad spectrum of weeds, including those that are tough to control. The S.T.O.P. acronym can help growers get the most from Liberty® herbicide.

Start Early with the First Application.

Early action against weeds is key, so growers should make the first application soon after emergence.

Target Weeds Before They Reach 3 Inches.

Successful control starts when weeds are small and easiest to manage.

Optimize Coverage

Liberty is a contact herbicide, requiring thorough spray coverage. Warm temperatures, higher humidity and bright sunlight are ideal application conditions. The best nozzle is one that generates a medium to coarse spray droplet, and growers should use plenty of water – at least 15 gallons per acre to ensure full coverage. If environmental conditions do not allow for timely applications, increase to 20 gallons per acre. Ground speeds less than 10 mph will ensure full coverage.

Pair with Residuals

Make sure to incorporate multiple effective sites of action. Use pre-emerge residual herbicides and a residual tank mix partner for best results.


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