One of our columnists for Friday Field Walk, Bill Pickart, Bringhurst, made an astute observation the other day. After driving around over the past couple weeks to get a feel for what the crop is like, it dawned on him that he had not seed a row cultivator for weeds.
"Maybe they're going the way of the plow," he said. "I can't remember when I saw the last one working in a field."
Even with the shift to residual herbicides, most people are in drilled or 15-inch rows, and will likely still not cultivate. A few people are in 30-inch rows, and would have the option to cultivate.
Weed control specialists caution that it might not be time to put the cultivator on the junk pile or sell it or scrap just yet. If Palmer amaranth gets a foothold as it has in the South, there may still be need for mechanical cultivation.
Actually, in the South people have gone to pulling it out by the roots, loading it on wagons, hauling it out of the field and burning the plants once they dry out. The plant is so prolific on weed seed that you can't allow even a small amount to go to seed if you can help it.
Several weed scientists said going into the season that you ought to plan your herbicide program as if Palmer amaranth was in your fields, whether it is or not. Last year the weed was identified in six northern and northwestern counties, plus two counties in the very southwestern tip of Indiana. The weeds from southwestern Indiana have already been confirmed as glyphosate-resistant.
Learn to recognize what the weed looks like. Get it before it produces a seed head, which alone can be 20 inches long, specialists say.