Farmers do a great job of in-crop weed control, which is great, seeing as weeds competing with the crop for nutrients and sunlight steal from yield. That said, a recent survey suggests that farmers are missing a key window of time for weed control — the four-week window after winter wheat harvest — that could be returning as many as 60 million weed seeds back into the weed seed bank.
Mike Cowbrough, weed specialist with Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, doesn’t care how you control weeds in the month after winter wheat harvest, he just wants you to. Cover crops are effective at reducing weed populations, as are volunteer wheat and oat plants, but tillage or a herbicide application work too. As you’ll hear in the interview below, Cowbrough says that a red clover cover crop reduced weed seed return from 60 million seeds to 400,000 seeds, and that reducing or eliminating weed seed return to the soil is a key first step in herbicide resistance management.
Watch the video below, filmed at the Southwest Agricultural Conference, to learn about how long weed seeds persist in the soil, how not managing weed seed return is pressuring herbicides’ long-term effectiveness and four ways to decrease the number of weed seeds that survive to next year.
Just want to hear the audio? Click here for a SoundCloud of this interview.