Understand the ‘Why’ Behind Weed Escapes to Improve Control

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Harvesting soybeans; two combines

The number of weed escapes you see from the combine seat can be a good indicator of your 2023 herbicide program effectiveness. However, if you don’t understand the “why” behind the weed escapes, you may end up trying to fix something that isn’t broken.

“Weed escapes are like the ‘check engine’ light of your herbicide program,” explains Ron Geis, market development specialist, Corteva Agriscience. “It may mean something is terribly wrong with your herbicide program and it needs to be fixed as soon as possible. Or it may be a false reading caused by uncooperative weather or untimely herbicide applications.”

Geis recommends performing a broader assessment of your weed control program to determine the root cause(s) of the weed escapes. Letting weeds go to seed will plague a field for several years, so diligence moving forward is a must. 

“It’s important to understand what led to the weed struggle and make improvements where you can,” Geis says. “We can’t control the weather, but we can implement weed control strategies that are more weatherproof.”

These practices can help elevate your weed control program for the 2024 growing season:

  • Plan a program approach. An effective weed control program will include burndown, preemergence and timely postemergence applications. Using multiple modes of action and herbicides with residual activity will help control even the most challenging weeds you faced this year.
  • Ensure timely spray applications. “Residual products work best when entering the weed seed as it absorbs its first water,” Geis says. “Foliar products work best on 2-inch-tall weeds and not 2-foot-tall weeds.”
  • Read product labels. Confirm adjuvant selection, tank-mix procedures and application rates prior to spraying. Failure to follow the label can make or break the effectiveness of your weed control program. 
  • Incorporate nonchemical strategies. Consider cover crops, inter-row cultivation, and switching to or away from no-till. These practices all work to disrupt the comfortable pattern to which your weed seedbank has adjusted. 

What if herbicide resistance is suspected?

“Herbicide resistance is one possible reason for weed escapes, and it should be further investigated if suspected,” Geis says. “However, if there are multiple species of weed escapes, it’s unlikely a resistance issue and more likely a weather or spray decision issue.”

Work with your local crop protection retailer or Corteva Agriscience representative to identify the cause of any weed escapes this year and ways to improve next year’s weed management program. You also can find the right products for 2024 by visiting the webpages for Corteva Agriscience’s corn herbicides portfolio and soybean herbicides portfolio on Corteva.us.


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