Pulse School: Why the critical weed-free period really is critical

(Kara Oosterhuis/RealAgriculture)

It can be challenging to get a reliable weed control system in place for pulse crops, due to several market and technical barriers. However, we still need to do what we can to set ourselves up for success, especially during that critical weed-free period.

Andrew Reid, technical marketing specialist with BASF, says one of the most important things farmers can do is think about herbicide resistance, as it is a challenge that is dealt with often in pulse crops.

“Our in-crop options are limited, and a lot of them are Group 2 herbicide based, which has been a fantastic mode of action for pulse production. The challenge is with the increase in Group 2 resistance. We have to really consider what we can do to manage those potentially resistant weeds, whether you have them or not,” Reid says, adding that a lot of this starts with getting a good burn-down in the spring, and not just with glyphosate.

Since the best-suited options for many pulse crops is a Group 2 chemistry, Reid says it’s essential to choose a tank-mix that is best suited to the crop, as well as knowing what exactly your field conditions are like.

“You really need to try to manage those weeds before you get in the sprayer. Thinking about, ‘OK — if I potentially have some Group 2 resistance here on this quarter, maybe I shouldn’t be growing a pulse crop there. Where am I going to be potentially more successful’,” he says.

The critical weed-free period is imperative when it comes to growing pulses. Producers want to wait until “all” the weeds are emerged and hit them with a herbicide all at once. However, Reid says that by doing that, you are impacting your yield more than you may realize.

“If you wait too long, and you have those weeds that are there while your crop is coming out of the ground, that actually comes with a potential yield hit,” he explains. “Just because those plants are trying to compete, even when they are just emerging. So really getting that early-season burn-down with a bit of residual, will help suppress those weeds early. Let your crop get ahead, and then you are really off to the races.”

Check out the full conversation in our Pulse School series, below:

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