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Start Clean, Stay Clean (05/16/19)

Planting activity is now finally in full swing in the Red River Valley. Reports indicate that many fields in the rest of North Dakota have already been planted or are currently being planted.

Planting activity is now finally in full swing in the Red River Valley. Reports indicate that many fields in the rest of North Dakota have already been planted or are currently being planted. This is an important time of the growing season for weed control, regardless of your location or tillage method in North Dakota. One important concept that applies to each and every crop field across the state is Start Clean, Stay Clean. Planting into a field with live, green weeds is one of the worst things we can do from a weed control perspective. Failure to control difficult weeds like kochia, horseweed, common ragweed, and even good old common lambsquarters prior to planting can often have negative consequences. Weed control with herbicides becomes increasingly difficult once the crops have emerged.

Anyone who has taken an introductory weed control class has been taught the concept of “many little hammers” for weed control. We lose many of these hammers if we fail to control weeds prior to planting and emergence. Several preemergence herbicides cannot be applied once our crops begin emerging. Clearly, nobody wants to cultivate an entire field after crop emergence. In this era of herbicide resistance, we must emphasize weed control prior to planting, and not just be concerned with weed control after planting. We will all be rushed to plant our crops in this delayed spring, but we may have regrets starting in a few weeks if we do not also focus on controlling the weeds that have emerged prior to planting and can last until we send them through our combines.  

Joe Ikley

Extension Weed Specialist

This site is supported in part by the Crop Protection and Pest Management Program [grant no. 2017-70006-27144/accession 1013592] from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed are those of the website author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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