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Weeds, herbicide shortage makes for challenging year

Shelley E. Huguley swfp-shelley-huguley-pete-dotray-crowd.jpg
Weed Specialist, Peter Dotray, right, discusses weed control challenges this season at a field day at the Halfway Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center.
Producers may need to apply a late-season herbicide.

"It's been quite a summer," said Weed Specialist Peter Dotray following a field day at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center, Halfway. "It's great conditions for weed growth, lots of rainfall, lots of subsequent flushes.

"I think a year like this demonstrated the importance of soil active herbicides."


Weed Specialist Peter Dotray, Texas Tech University and Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension (Photo by Shelley E. Huguley)

Early on in the season, Dotray said it was apparent which fields had a preplant and at-plant herbicide incorporated, and "then were starting to overlay their foliar sprays, whether it be a Dicamba or a Liberty or 2-4D that included overlaying with additional residuals." 

With some areas receiving as much as 10 to 12 inches of rainfall throughout the end of May into June and July, Dotray described weed control as "all over the board, where there are some very clean fields and there are some fields that struggled from the very beginning.

"I think some growers really weren't prepared with all the rainfall and the inputs that were going to be required and they've been attempting to play catch up."

See, Texas High Plains cotton update; PGR considerations

But battling weeds hasn't been the only challenge. A limited supply of certain products has further complicated weed control. "It's just really been a challenge," Dotray said. "A lot of growers first found that Liberty was in short supply, and in a year like this, it has been working very well. Some applications have even been made to larger weeds and they're still getting pretty good activity, likely because of the humid conditions and succulent growth that the weeds have."

But soon that product was in short supply, as were other soil residual chemistries, he added. Searching for specific brands or something similar took time. "That was costly as far as the timeline of some of the applications."

Dotray also discussed effective end-of-season weed control. "For fields that today are relatively clean, the encouragement is that late-emerging weeds are still producing seed and we've done studies that indicate a Palmer amaranth plant emerging in August can produce 20,000 seed. So, even though the fields are clean today, as those residuals play out with additional rainfall and irrigation, there could be more weed flushes. We'd like to see some layby treatments applied where those flushes are going  to be controlled before they even come up."

When Dotray spoke with Farm Press, he was standing in a weed field trial at the Halfway center. He said this summer's conditions have made for great herbicide comparisons. Watch this video to hear more of his interview. 



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