Writer: Tim W. McAlavy, (806) 746-4051, firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact: Todd Baughman, (940) 552-9941, email@example.com
LUBBOCK – Wheat producers can improve their crop’s yield and grain quality potential by controlling weeds that rob crop plants of nutrients, water and light, said a Texas Agricultural Extension Service agronomist.
“The best defense against weeds is to grow a vigorous, competitive crop by using a combination of good cultural practices, crop rotation and approved herbicides,” said Todd Baughman, Extension agronomist based in Vernon. “Plant good, clean seed in a well-prepared, fertile seed bed. Using the right planting date, seeding rate row spacing and fertilizer will also help produce a healthy stand that can out-compete weeds.
“Scout your fields early for any sign of weed competition, and be prepared to make a timely herbicide application according to label directions if a treatment is necessary.”
Treating fence lines and the edges of fields also is a good idea, the agronomist said. Left untreated, these areas can soon harbor enough weeds to become a “weed nursery.”
“You will achieve the best control when weeds are young,” he said. “Letting the weeds go and relying on a pre-harvest herbicide treatment is not a good idea. By then, the weeds have already cost you some yield, they are harder to kill and they are a source of seed for future infestations.”
“At harvest, it is a good idea to cut your cleanest fields first and to clean the combine thoroughly between fields. This will help keep weeds from spreading, and it will help you keep the grain clean and avoid dockage at the elevator.”
Removing small infestations by hand, treating fence rows and ditches, rotating with summer crops, grazing the crop and seeding later in the fall are other ways to keep grassy and broadleaf weeds in check. Waiting for a fall flush of weeds, plowing and then seeding wheat is a good option, but it can reduce the crop’s grazing potential, the agronomist said.
“When a herbicide treatment is necessary, your choices will depend on the type of weeds present, their stage of growth, your crop rotation plans and whether you are growing wheat for grain, grazing or both,” Baughman said. “Some products cannot be used at all on wheat that will be grazed, while others may not be compatible with your summer rotation crop.
“Because of their chemistry, some products are even variety specific — they are only labeled for use on certain wheat varieties. Even so, there are several herbicides and combinations (tank mixes) that will provide good control of broadleaf and grassy weeds if you follow label directions carefully.”
There are no “one-year, cure-all” herbicide treatments for controlling all weed problems in wheat. Instead, producers should adopt a 3- to 4-year goal of controlling or eliminating weeds by-program approach of using preventative cultural practices and applying herbicides (when needed) at recommended times and rates.
Producers can get more information on controlling weeds in wheat by calling Baughman at (940) 552-9941, or from their local county Extension agent. Texas A&M’s soil and crop science department web site also contains information on wheat weed contro. Go to http://soil-testing.tamu.edu, click on “Crops, Weeds and Facts,” select publications under “Weed Control,” then select “Small Grains.”