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A fairly common question this time of year – where I have planted cover crops, do I still need a fall herbicide treatment to help manage marestail? The underlying premise here is that where a cover crop develops enough biomass to adequately cover the ground by late fall, it can contribute substantial suppression/control of marestail. Grass covers seem to be most effective at suppressing marestail, as long as they are planted early enough in fall to develop this type of biomass. Grass covers can also be treated postemergence in the fall with several broadleaf herbicides, while this is not possible in covers that contain broadleaf crops – legumes, radish, etc. There are no hard and fast rules with regard to this situation but here are some things to think about:
– Herbicide options for cereal rye and wheat covers generally include all of the typical postemergence herbicides that are labeled for fall use in small grains – 2,4-D, dicamba, 2,4-D/dicamba premix, Huskie, etc. We do not recommend use of 2,4-D in fall on small grains grown for yield because of the potential for crop injury and yield loss. However, we have applied 2,4-D to cereal rye and ryegrass in our research, and either injury did not occur or was minor enough that we did not detect it. Yield is a not a factor for cover crops anyway. Late-planted rye and wheat, which would be less developed at the time of application, may be more sensitive to 2,4-D injury.
– Do not apply dicamba or 2,4-D around the time of planting due to risk of injury. Delay applications until cover has at least a few inches of growth. It is possible to make a preemergence application of glyphosate plus Sharpen, and Sharpen alone could work if marestail is the only weed of concern.
In summary, factors allowing for greatest possibility of skipping application of fall herbicides to the cover crop: 1) earliest possible cover planting and development of substantial fall growth that prevents bare ground; 2) use of more effective spring burndown herbicides; and 3) fields with low marestail populations.
Source: Mark Loux, Ohio State University Extension
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