Consider using residual herbicides with burndown treatments in no-till soybean

The use of soil-applied residual herbicides offers growers many benefits for weed control.

Reduced glyphosate costs make it tempting to rely only on glyphosate for weed control in no-till Roundup Ready soybean. However, the addition of a residual herbicide with burndown herbicide applications can provide many benefits.

Residual herbicides can improve early-season and postemergence weed control. Though postemergence application timings for glyphosate are generally flexible in terms of weed height, making the application when weeds are an appropriate size remains a major factor for ensuring satisfactory control. Beyond starting the growing season with a clean field, including a herbicide with residual activity with your burndown application will reduce in-season weed growth and extend early-season weed control. Residual herbicides can improve control and reduce the growth of problematic weeds, such as horseweed (marestail), common ragweed, giant ragweed, and common lambsquarters. As a result of reduced weed growth, the time needed between a burndown herbicide application and a postemergence glyphosate treatment may be extended. This is especially important when weather conditions may prevent timely postemergence applications.

There are several different residual herbicides that can be included with a burndown application. For a complete listing of soybean herbicides with residual weed control, consult Table 2G in the MSU Extension publication E-434“Weed Control Guide for Field Crops.”

Residual herbicides can pay for themselves. There is no added application expense when a residual herbicide is included in a burndown herbicide application. Depending on market prices, weed pressure, and herbicide cost, the extra expense of adding a residual herbicide to a burndown application may pay for itself with as little as a 1 bushel/acre increase in yield. In fact, the economic returns from the addition of any of six of the different residual herbicides that we examined over two years at three locations were not different from a burndown application of glyphosate + 2,4-D ester alone. This was true regardless of soybean commodity prices from $5 to $15/bushel. When choosing residual herbicides, the decision should be based on the types of weeds that are in the field and weed pressures to maximize economic return.

Residual herbicides are a pro-active approach to glyphosate-resistant weeds. One of the most important benefits of including a residual herbicide in a weed control program is the opportunity to use herbicides with additional modes of action beyond glyphosate. While glyphosate continues to provide excellent control of most weeds, the spread of glyphosate-resistant weeds throughout Michigan and the Midwest is becoming an increasing concern. As glyphosate-resistant weeds become more widespread, use of residual herbicides will give growers another option for weed control in no-till soybean production to improve the stewardship of glyphosate and glyphosate-resistant cropping systems.

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