Things are continuing to progress slowly in the field since my last article. Around the first of February I made a trip across Arkansas over into Mississippi. I remember thinking that “a lot of burn-down herbicide had been applied.” I made the same trip a couple of weeks ago and thought to myself that “a lot of burn-down herbicide had been applied!” That was about it.
I saw perhaps a dozen corn fields that had been planted and otherwise very little ground was even worked. By the phone calls I’ve received this week, there has been a two-day flurry of rice and corn planting on the lighter-textured soils, but another general rain is on the horizon.
You are likely thinking, “Doc, I know that — I am one of those with nothing done!” Cheer up. We are going to be fine. We are just now getting into the prime recommended planting dates for most of our crops. Everyone is referencing last year when it warmed up sooner than I can ever remember, and we just need to get last year off the brain.
We are all into an early as possible mentality. However, there can also be advantages to planting when the soils have warmed up more. I keep telling that to folks who have called me, bummed out. If it were mid- to late May, I would be extremely concerned, but it is mid-April and there is no cause for panic yet.
The weather has messed up my writing as well. Every week I think the season will have progressed for the next article, and it has not happened. Like many of you, I find myself at the same place this week as the week before. I am confident though that things are fixing to break loose big time.
I have had a few calls lately on how to kill emerged corn before replanting. I hope there will not be many of these. The best treatment is Gramoxone with a photosynthetic inhibitor herbicide in it to slow it down. Gramoxone with 3 to 4 ounces of Sencor or metribuzin works well. Surprisingly, Gramoxone plus atrazine also works well.
Where growers have wanted the option to replant to soybeans I have recommended the metribuzin option. Where they were going back to corn, atrazine will provide the desired effect on the Gramoxone and also serve as a pre-emergence treatment. If you apply Gramoxone alone it will burn the corn to the ground and you will think for about a week you nailed it. However, most will re-grow.
The amount of burn-down herbicide that has been applied will pay off when the fields dry, even if you are going to work the ground. The fields that have had no burn-down herbicides applied are getting pretty woolly. This will require a lot of tillage and often loss of moisture (seems strange to say right now). Regardless of the crop to be planted, a basic principle is to start clean. Unfortunately the day is gone when we could plant into anything we wanted to and count on glyphosate to kill everything out there.
One thing that was very obvious on my recent trip was the increase in resistant ryegrass. When you see the fields with dead ryegrass mixed with clumps that are unaffected, you do not need to have them tested. A lot of the fields I observed just had scattered clumps of resistant plants. In another couple of years, all of our ryegrass will be resistant and that will make things more difficult. Big glyphosate-resistant ryegrass is very difficult to control with herbicides or tillage. Controlling ryegrass is going to require an increase in fall-applied residual herbicides.
Start clean whether with herbicides, tillage, or both. Gramoxone is becoming the herbicide of necessity again. I never recommend it without a photosynthetic inhibitor herbicide as I described above. Just match the herbicide to the crop — metribuzin for soybeans, atrazine for corn, and Direx or Cotoran for cotton. Those will make the Gramoxone work and provide residual.
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