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Control ryegrass in wheat

I hope you are controlling ryegrass in wheat. It was pointed out to me after a previous article in which I discussed Finesse, that it only suppresses wild garlic. That is true, but sometimes it can be quite good.

The main reason to use Finesse is for pre-emergence control of ryegrasses. Control of the other weeds should just be considered a bonus.

If garlic is a problem, scout the fields in the spring for garlic. If enough garlic has escaped the Finesse treatment, use Harmony Extra or 2,4 — D at that point.

Scout for ryegrass. Now is the time to scout closely and take action. Every spring, we get calls from farmers wanting to know if we are going to get an exemption to use sodium chlorate to desiccate escaped ryegrasses at harvest. More often than not, these are not fields where Hoelon-resistant ryegrass is present, but rather fields where the growers just did not feel the problem was severe enough to treat earlier.

If ryegrass is present, it usually will be thick. It may only be thick enough to spray around the edges of the field. Remember that it is spindly and looks rather innocent when it first comes up.

I get a lot of calls from growers willing to spend whatever it takes if a salvage situation can just be made to look better, when they were unwilling to spend one-third to one-half that amount back when the situation could have been controlled.

Now is the time to look close, make sure the grass is properly identified and treat with Hoelon or Achieve if you do not have a history of Hoelon resistance. If you have a resistance problem and have not already used Finesse, you might try the reduced rate of Sencor on two- to three- leaf wheat if you have a Sencor-resistant variety.

If you can stand it, then follow up with a labeled rate when the wheat is in the two-tiller stage.

I also get the same salvage calls in the spring on cheat. Now is the time to use the reduced rate of Sencor on the two- to three-leaf wheat.

Annual bluegrass (poa annua) normally is not competitive in wheat if a conventional seedbed is prepared and you get a good stand of wheat. In no-till wheat, however, it can be extremely competitive, especially on the prairie-type soils. This is especially true when a burndown herbicide was not used at planting.

The only effective treatment for control of annual bluegrass is Sencor. Either the reduced rate applied early or the labeled rate at the tillering stage should provide good control.

On several of these Sencor weeds, I am concerned that some farmers will not apply it early and will then want to use the reduced rate at the later application. That dog won't hunt. I like the reduced rate applied at the two- to three-leaf stage. If you decide to go later, you must use the labeled rate.

Ford Baldwin is an Arkansas Extension weed scientist. e-mail:

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