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Adapting burndown herbicide programs to wet weather delays

By Mark Loux, Ohio State University Extension herbicide specialist

The wet soils and weather have limited field work and questions about how to deal with burndown herbicide treatments in delayed planting situations are rolling in. One of the most common ones, predictably, is how to kill glyphosate-resistant marestail and giant ragweed and generally big weeds in soybeans when it’s not possible to delay planting long enough to use 2,4-D ester (Enlist soybeans excluded). While marestail populations may on the decline, this does not mean it’s gone by any means. Overwintered marestail plants become tougher to kill in May, and the fact that fall weather was not conducive for herbicide applications makes the situation worse in some fields. The good news is that we have some additional herbicide/trait options for help with burndown since the last time we wrote an article covering this in 2016, although our experience is that nothing we suggest here is infallible on large marestail.

A burndown of glyphosate and 2,4-D struggles to control marestail in the spring anyway, especially in the absence of fall herbicide treatments. Our standard recommendation, regardless of when spring treatments are applied, is to either replace the 2,4-D with something more effective, or to add another herbicide to supplement the 2,4-D. Sharpen has been the frequent replacement/supplement, and we now have the option to use dicamba in the Xtend soybean system instead of 2,4-D. While it’s possible to use higher 2,4-D rates in the Enlist soybean without waiting to plant, higher rates do not necessarily solve this issue based on our research, although a follow up POST treatment that includes glufosinate or 2,4-D usually finishes off plants that survive burndown. We also would not expect the addition of Elevore to consistently solve this issue either, and it requires a 14-day wait to plant any soybean. There’s a list of suitable soybean burndown treatments in our marestail fact sheet, and also below — these are for fields not treated the prior fall.

  • Glyphosate + saflufenacil + 2,4-D (+ metribuzin if possible)
  • Gramoxone (3-4 pt) + 2,4-D + metribuzin
  • Glyphosate + dicamba (Xtend soybeans)
  • Glyphosate + dicamba + saflufenacil (Xtend soybeans)
  • Glufosinate + Sharpen (+ metribuzin if possible).

Salfufenacil herbicides include Sharpen, Zidua PRO, and Verdict. It is possible to use a mix of glyphosate, saflufenacil, and metribuzin, omitting the 2,4-D, but control can be more variable. We have observed some weakness also with the glyphosate/saflufenacil combination on dandelion, purple deadnettle, and larger giant ragweed. There obviously can be some benefit to keeping 2,4-D in the burndown where possible, as part of a more comprehensive mixture. We advise against using Gramoxone unless it can be mixed with both 2,4-D and a metribuzin-containing herbicide. One strategy would be to plant corn first as soon fields are fit, and delay soybean planting so that 2,4-D could still be used. And a reminder – deciding to include saflufenacil at the last minute can result in a need to alter the residual herbicide program. Labels allow mixtures of Sharpen/Verdict with herbicides that contain flumioxazin (Valor), sulfentrazone (Authority), or fomesafen (Reflex) only if applied 2 or more weeks before planting.

Some other things to consider in a delayed burndown situation:

  1. Aside from glyphosate-resistant weeds, increasing glyphosate rates may be one of the most effective ways to maintain effective control. We suggest a rate of at least 1.5 pounds acid equivalent per acre (lb ae/A), and higher rates could be warranted. This will not improve marestail control, but should help with most other weeds, especially under (presumably) warmer May conditions.
  2. To improve control with glyphosate/2,4-D, add Sharpen or another saflufenacil herbicide, as long as the residual herbicides in the mix do not include flumioxazin, sulfentrazone, or fomesafen if it’s within 14 days of soybean planting. It’s also possible to substitute Sharpen for 2,4-D when it’s not possible to wait 7 days to plant, but this may result in reduced control of dandelion, deadnettle and giant ragweed. Where the residual herbicide in the mix does contain flumioxazin, sulfentrazone, or fomesafen, and it’s not possible to change the residual or add Sharpen, adding metribuzin or Canopy Blend/Cloak DF to glyphosate/2,4-D can improve burndown effectiveness somewhat.
  3. Consider substituting Gramoxone or glufosinate for glyphosate? Gramoxone is less effective than glufosinate on marestail, but glufosinate can struggle some in a dense, large no-till burndown situation. Either one should be applied with metribuzin and 2,4-D ideally. Use the higher labeled rates and a spray volume of 15 to 20 gallons per acre for best results. A consideration here is that in large no-till weed situations, high rates of glyphosate typically have more value than high rates of Gramoxone or glufosinate, with the exception of glyphosate-resistant weeds. We know of some growers who have used a mixture of glyphosate and glufosinate for burndown, with the glufosinate in the mix to control marestail primarily. We do not have enough experience with this mix to make a recommendation in a burndown situation. The Hail Mary treatment here is a mix of glufosinate and Sharpen (plus metribuzin ideally), which is expensive but somewhat of a scorched earth approach on broadleaf weeds at least.
  4. In the Enlist and Extend systems where it’s possible to use 2,4-D or dicamba without waiting to plant, there can be an advantage to increasing herbicide rates as we move later and weeds become larger. Another advantage of these systems is the option to use 2,4-D or dicamba again in POST treatments to finish off weeds that survive burndown. We do have to assume that this strategy would likely select for resistance more rapidly, compared with use just PRE or POST. Including glufosinate in POST treatments of 2,4-D to Enlist soybeans should mitigate the resistance rate somewhat, although it does not substitute for late season scouting and removal of weeds to prevent seed. Reminder to consult the appropriate websites to determine the legal options to mix with 2,4-D and dicamba for use in Enlist or Xtend soybeans, especially when developing a more comprehensive mix to deal with tough burndown situations.
  5. Among all of the residual herbicides, chlorimuron contributes the most activity on emerged annual weeds and dandelion. This is probably most evident when the chlorimuron is applied as a premix that contains metribuzin (Canopy Blend/Cloak DF, etc). The chloirmuron may not be much of a help for marestail or ragweed control, since many populations are ALS-resistant. Cloransulam (FirstRate) has activity primarily on emerged ragweeds and marestail, as long as they are not ALS-resistant. We have on occasion observed a reduction in systemic herbicide activity when mixed with residual herbicides that contain sulfentrazone or flumioxazin.
  6. It is possible to substitute tillage for burndown herbicides. Make sure that the tillage is deep and thorough enough to completely uproot weeds. Weeds that regrow after being “beat up” by tillage are often impossible to control for the rest of the season. Tillage tools that do not uniformly till the upper few inches (e.g. TurboTill) should not be used for this purpose. One strategy to ensure complete control even in tilled situations is to apply glyphosate several days prior to tillage.
  7. Late burndown in corn is typically a less dire situation compared with soybeans. Reasons for this include: 1) the activity of some residual corn herbicides (e.g. atrazine, mesotrione) on emerged weeds; 2), the ability to use dicamba around the time of planting; 3) the tolerance of emerged corn to 2,4-D (Enlist corn) and dicamba, and 4) the overall effectiveness of available POST corn herbicides. Overall, while not adequately controlling emerged weeds prior to soybean planting can make for a tough season, there is just more application flexibility and herbicide choice for corn. Having said this, be sure to make adjustments as necessary in rate or herbicide selection in no-till corn fields.

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