Call of the Week: Managing Late Burndown

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How to Adapt Burndown Herbicide Programs to Wet Weather Delays

The rainy spring has delayed burndown for most Tennessee producers. In this podcast, Dr. Larry Steckel discusses considerations for adapting burndown programs to wet weather delays.


Ginger Rowsey: Hi, everyone, and thanks for listening to Call of the Week. I’m Ginger Rowsey with the UT Institute of Agriculture. Our guest today is Dr. Larry Steckel. Hi, Larry.

Larry Steckel: Hi, Ginger.

Rowsey: We may not sound as well as we typically do because we’re spread out a little bit in our recording studio. We’re practicing social distancing. That means keeping a little distance from our shared mic, too. So Larry just speak up a little bit, and hopefully this will work out ok. Glad you’re here, and of course, COVID-19 is a story on everyone’s mind, but the weather is also a big story in agriculture. How delayed are we due to weather, when we think about where we would typically be in a normal year?

Steckel: That’s a really good question. Just my take on it, driving around West Tennessse, we are a good bit behind an average type year. We were late last year, too. But there’s just a handful of fields I know of that have a burndown application on. Most are sitting on go ready to do it, and that’s the calls I’m getting on strategy for that.

Rowsey: We’re recording this on March 25. No rain today. And we’re maybe going to have a couple of days that are warm and sunny. How soon could people get out and start applying those burndowns?

Steckel: Well, I would hope in some of these fields maybe we could get on them by the end of the week or sometime next week. We have a chance of rain over the weekend, so I’m hoping that will come in July and not now, right?

Rowsey: Right.

Steckel: The big thing is can the sprayer get across the field without rutting or getting stuck? That’s a real challenge in a lot of these fields. We have a lot of rolling hills, and unfortunately at the bottom of those fields we can really be in some trouble. So trying to work around a lot of fields.

Rowsey: So, is it too soon to think about strategies to adopt when burndown is delayed?

Steckel: No, really, and with corn we typically have a few folks wanting to roll corn planters, and certainly by the first week of April. So, we are late with corn burndown. Usually we are a good bit ahead on it. Sometimes we have some cotton and soybean burndown out, too, but the corn is really late. The answer to a lot of the questions is it’s not a one size fits all deal. I can’t give just one recipe and you run to every field. It really is dicatated by what weeds you have. If you have mostly broadleaves, maybe Poa annua, you know gramoxone, atrazine is really hard to beat. However, if you have a lot of ryegrass, that’s a little trickier. A lot of it is Roundup resistant, so that’s not going to help us a lot. Then you start looking at some other options. LeadOff, a lot of folks are looking at LeadOff, and that works pretty well with ryegrass. Some others may want to look at clethodim, but the problem with that is you’ve got to plant back to corn. You’ve got to wait six days for six ounces. That’s what’s on the 24C label we have. And others might try a couple shots of gramoxone twice, but no one really wants to do that.

Rowsey: What about current market conditions? Will that play a role in burndown decisions?

Steckel: This is going to be a tough year from an economic standpoint. $8 soybeans, cotton is not a very good price, corn is probably as good as any, and it could be better. So, folks are trying to be as economical as possible. It seems like there’s more interest—if you’re thinking cotton—of Diuron. Getting it in the mix as a residual. It’s pretty cheap, and it works well. I know there’s a good bit of Valor going out. I think some of these marketing programs from some of the companies—I think Bayer has a rewards program that’s promoting Valor, getting it out early. That’s another one that’s going to be fairly economical. And there’s others, as well, but trying to work around the economics and all this rain, and now the virus problems. It’s been a heck of a spring already.

Rowsey: Anything else that producers need to keep in mind concerning burndowns with this late start on the season?

Steckel: Yeah, with the late start, it just depends how wet it gets, but we’ve been having a lot of trouble with the junglerice, barnyardgrass. It will start coming up in April. We’re going to have to watch for it, and you just can’t count on Roundup to burn it down. Particularly if you’ve got dicamba with it. It won’t burn it down. So, just using straight Roundup, or Roundup with some clethodim, and keep the dicamba in the jug until you start running those post applications.

Rowsey: And if you can’t be timely with the burndown appllications how will this affect your weed management for the entire summer?

Steckel: It just pushes everything back for the entire summer. The other thing is, we’re very wet, we’ve got rivers way high, you want to stay flexible. So, you may get out there and want to plant corn and you’re using a herbicide program designed to work with corn, but you don’t want to get locked into corn in case you don’t get a stand and need to come back and plant soybean or cotton. You need to be flexible. So, not putting atrazine in the burndown or pre-plant is one way to keep you flexible so if you do lose the corn crop—and I hope you don’t—you’ve got a good option to come back with soybean and not worry about the herbicide.

Rowsey: Anything else you wanted to add? Any more advice on this issue?

Steckel: I’m hoping maybe we’re starting to get a turn on this weather. And I’m hoping folks can get out in the field here pretty quick and get some burndowns out, and have success. One shot. Hopefully no follow-up applications this year, we just can’t afford them.

Rowsey: Ok, thanks, Larry. I appreciate you being here. And we appreciate all of you out there listening. Hope you stay well and healthy, and we’ll talk next week.


Larry Steckel

UT Department of Plant Sciences