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Arkansas weed control: Is new red rice control right for you?

Last week I began discussing some of the things I believe it will take to make the Clearfield rice technology sustainable. I ended by saying that if you were not prepared to flush fields at a moment's notice, you should not use the technology.

One of the first questions will be, “Do you mean on a preplant incorporated treatment, too?” Obviously, one reason to use a ppi treatment is to try to get activation without flushing. Based upon our experience, if you incorporate into a silt loam soil with good moisture, the need for immediate rainfall is much less than with a pre-emergence treatment.

However, if the soil begins to dry, flushing will be required. My experience has been that it is not difficult to get a farmer to flush for rice stand establishment. Where the rub comes is when the herbicide needs flushing but the rice does not. In some of these cases, flushing can even make stand establishment more difficult or require extra flushings.

Some people will use the terms “preplant incorporated or pre-emergence” in one breath for the soil application of Newpath. This might indicate to some that the two methods are equivalent. In our work, they have not been.

The ppi treatments have consistently outperformed pre-emergence treatments by 20 percent or so, even when we flush the day after planting.

For this first label, I argued for the soil-applied treatment to be ppi only. Doing this, I was fully aware, would not make me popular with farmers with clay soils or those who plant stale seedbed or no-till. I do not like limiting technology to anyone and I certainly don't like taking flak, so that should tell you how strongly I feel about the ppi versus pre-issue.

I have had several people tell me, “Doc, have you ever tried to incorporate a herbicide on a clay soil?” No, but I know it is a pain. I will also say, however, that Ken Smith, my counterpart in southeast Arkansas, has seen the same increased control from a ppi versus pre-treatment on the clay at Rohwer, Ark., that we have seen on silt loam at Lonoke, Stuttgart and Lodge Corner.

The stale seedbed guys may say, “Doc, do you just want to leave us plumb out?” Again, no, but how willing are you to risk a failure? The key to making the Newpath system work is to get excellent control or at least suppression from the soil application. Then, you can finish everything off with the postemergence treatment.

If the red rice blows through the soil applications untouched, the postemergence treatment will not finish it off.

I guess my message in this article is the easiest way may not be best. It would be nice to be able to say “just any way you wish to do it will work.” Unfortunately it won't. The difference between a ppi and pre-treatment, or between timely flushing and not, may be the difference between success and failure.

On the other hand, it may only be the difference between 98 and 99.5 percent control. That may well be the difference in whether you can rogue the escapes or not. Roguing will be stressed by the company. That is easy to tell someone if you aren't the one who has to do it or pay for it. However, roguing is like going bird hunting and having to tote the dog. You aren't going to tote him very far.

Ford Baldwin is an Arkansas Extension weed scientist. e-mail: [email protected]

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