Weeds in a crop cost dollars. Applying control methods takes time and also cost money. It is critical that we try and eliminate any potential weed problems in our fields to ensure top production. Here are some of the reasons that I have seen over the years for failed weed control. A healthy crop is the first line of defense against weed problems. Tools like a strong fertility program and seed treatments are two things that producers can control to improve crop health. These practices must be implemented early in the season to help the crop better compete with weeds. Weather is also a factor that affects crop health. We cannot control the weather but we can decide when to plant and therefore decide how the crop will develop. Cold soils delay crop development, so waiting for the soil to warm up can be a tool to help improve crop health and therefore better compete with weeds. When a weed control system is chosen, it generally requires some equipment to make it work. The equipment that we use must be in good condition. Going over a sprayer in the spring and checking all the screens and nozzles is essential to make sure the equipment is operating properly. To get the right amount of product on a field, the spraying equipment must be properly set up. Choosing the right product or system to control the weeds in a field is essential if there is any hope to get the control expected. On the label of all the weed control products that we use, there is a list of the weeds that it will control. This list needs to be matched with the weeds that are in your field. If there is a weed that is not on the control list and it is in your field, there will be disappointment with the product chosen. If it is too early to spray because the weeds are not all emerged, failure again can be the result. It is important that any new situation that develops in a field is examined to ensure that the expected results are achieved. Checking all fields to see what is in them is essential. Talking to people with knowledge and experience is the best way to obtain the appropriate information about a control system once you know what is in a field. There are many tools and sources of information that should be looked at as a producer goes through the weed control selection process. The provincial weed guides carry an excellent source of information to help make the appropriate decision. There is a herbicide selector on the Alberta Agriculture website. Information is available at your local crop inputs dealer. Neighbors can have local knowledge that can be very helpful. Using the right information will help a producer select the right control practice. Take the time to plan a weed control properly. The time spent will result in better results.
By Dave Cubbon, P Ag