Since we are well into spring and nearly into summer, I wanted to touch on what NRCS calls Pest Management, or in other words weed control. We all want the best for our pastures, and by minimizing the mistakes or missteps, money and time can be saved.
#7. Spraying too early (Where are the Weeds?)
Many times a producer will spray for weeds at a specific time, maybe the first week in May for example. That will work most of the time. But what happens when the weather is not exactly average that year? Too little rain, maybe too much, maybe a cooler than average spring, the weeds may not have emerged when you spray. If the weeds aren’t there, what are you spraying? Scout your fields, and base your chemical application on real observations, not just the calendar.
All weeds are not created equal, especially in there apparent willingness to die. No matter how hard you try, some weeds are tougher to control and have different susceptibilities to different products. If you know what weeds you have in your pasture, you will be able to put the right product on it. Your local NRCS office has lots of weed and grass id info available to the public to help in this regard.
#5. Wrong conditions (Too dry to spray?)
Control of weeds drops off when a plant goes into drought stress conditions. The plants are simply trying to survive, which means that they are not actively growing or taking up the applied herbicide either. While it may not be too dry to spray, it may be too dry to get good and complete results if you do.
#4. Spraying at the wrong stage (Spray it when you can.)
Most weeds are controlled when they are young and actively growing. When weeds are allowed to get larger, it takes more herbicide to kill them, and control is much more erratic. For example, if the best control occurs when a plant is in Rosetta stage of growth, be able to identify your target plant when it reaches that stage of growth before spraying. Read the label, and learn the best timing for your main weed issues.
#3. Using the wrong product. (I’ll have the cheapest thing on the menu.)
More often than not, the cheapest herbicide will do as well as anything else. That is case when weeds fall into the easy-to-control category and the conditions are ideal for spraying too. For the difficult to control weeds (lespedeza and bullnettle for example), more expensive chemicals are usually needed. Going cheap may work most of the time, but know when to bring out the big guns.
#2. Sprayer Calibration (I think a tank will cover to 10 – 50 acres…)
It is not an exaggeration to say that most folks don’t calibrate their spray rigs. This is a practice that should be done every season. Calculating the volume of spray is key to knowing how much product to put in the tank. When you calibrate, inspect the nozzles, screens, lines, pumps. etc., to make sure that everything is working fine. If you don’t know how to calibrate your sprayer, call your local Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Agent (979-865-2072) or your local NRCS District Conservationist (979-865-3139 x170). We are happy to help with that kind of information.
#1. Read the label (Labels, we don’t need no stink’ in labels!)
Please read the labels on your product containers. The label contains safety considerations, product use, and all sorts of other info that you probably didn’t know too. It is a violation of federal law not to follow the labeled recommendations. But the most important reason that not following the labeled instructions will lead to, is poor weed control. A lot of research and development went into that product to bring it to the market; so use that knowledge and effort to your advantage.
There are many ways to control weeds that work, but unfortunately there are even more ways to make weed control efforts fail. Success lies in minimizing mistakes.
Brad Kieschnick is the District Conservationist for Natural Resources Conservation Service. He can be reached at 979-865-3139 x170.