Lately, I have been in a writing slump due to the many demands on my time both professional and personal. I penned this month’s article on June 13. Prior to that date, Georgia growers were dealing with several nasty curveballs thrown by Mother Nature.
These included a Mother’s Day weekend rainfall event, three-week period without any rainfall, daily high air temperatures six to eight degrees above normal, and then eight days of significant rainfall (some monsoon-like). Depending upon what part of the state you live in, Georgia rainfall totals from June 5 to June 12 ranged somewhere between one inch and seven inches (maybe more in some locations). These curveballs have presented some tough weed control challenges.
The Mother’s Day weekend rain event (May 9-13) was enough to cause Valor injury (and panic) in many peanut fields. Pictures, e-mails, phone-calls and texts were abundant on that following Monday. All I will say about this is that Valor injury occurs almost every year in Georgia with minimal effects on final yield!!!! A recent USDA/NASS survey indicated that Valor was used on 74% of the peanut acres in Georgia making it the No. 1 herbicide in peanuts. For the record, Cadre was No. 2 at 59% and Prowl was No. 3 at 39%.
The dry/hot weather caused some peanut growers, especially in dryland fields, to reconsider “cracking” applications of paraquat with good reason. Peanut plants need lots of water to help them recover from paraquat injury! Irrigated growers have a much better chance of helping peanut plants recover from paraquat injury, especially in below-average rainfall years.
Many dryland corn fields/corners were destroyed for obvious reasons. It is very tough to grow field corn in Georgia’s sandy, low organic matter soils without water. Where atrazine was used in these areas, it would not be a good idea to plant any other summer crop except grain sorghum.
After the Death Valley-like conditions abated, it rained on and off for eight days straight. Growers who needed to get into their fields to make timely postemergence herbicide applications could not do so. Now many fields have pigweed plants that are too large to be controlled with herbicides.
There is no herbicide that will consistently control Palmer amaranth plants larger than 6 inches tall.
Best chances for optimum success are when biggest plants (not the average) are three inches to four inches tall. Hoe and/or hand are the only solutions for those monster weeds. I think it’s a crime for anyone to recommend an herbicide application for large weeds because it is a complete waste of time and money to spray them!! Over my 27 years in Extension in three different states (NJ, TX, GA), I have never been in a field where revenge spraying worked.
When Mother Nature is hurling 110 MPH curveballs, there are no secret recipes or magic potions that I can offer you. Since most herbicides applications will now be over-the-top (postemergence), all I can suggest is that you consider the following:
- Be as timely as possible.
- Select the most appropriate herbicide.
- Avoid mixing grass herbicides with broadleaf herbicides (antagonism).
- Use 15 GPA.
- Drive slower.
- Use the right nozzle tip.
- Don’t try to control every pest (weed, insect, or disease) with one application.
As an Extension specialist who spends almost every day in the field worrying about a lot of things, I can only imagine what it is like at the farm level. Not sure how any farmer gets a good night’s sleep especially when Mother Nature throws you curveballs. I am thankful that there are men and women out there who willing to take this risk so that all Americans have access to an abundant and inexpensive food supply.
As always, good weed hunting!