Sitting in the combine is the perfect time to start thinking about weed control for 2018. Some things that can be done this fall to give you a jumpstart on weed control for next season include:
1. Mapping and scouting your fields. The view from the combine seat allows you to easily scout and map where areas with a high density of weeds were this season as well as winter annuals that may be popping up. Knowing where these hot spots are will help you determine where to spend extra time/money in the spring. And if you do notice winter annuals you may want to plan a fall herbicide application.
2. Herbicide application. Herbicides can be used after harvest to remove any weeds that have appeared after the removal of the crop. This will minimize the number of weeds growing in the spring, which will improve the seedbed and make planting easier. It also eliminates any weed cover that could be a winter host to unwanted diseases and insects. And with the increase in resistant horseweed, fall herbicide applications can help control this problem weed when it is still small (versus waiting until spring when plants are much larger and more difficult to control).
3. Planting a cover crop. Cover crops can be a very useful tool if you are looking for a non-chemical alternative to manage weeds. Cover crops have multiple advantages including improving soil health, reducing undesirable weed species, and nutrient cycling.
4. Tillage. Tillage can kill weeds and prevent seed production. Clean fields in the fall and spring will reduce the number of weeds that emerge in the spring, allowing for more effective weed management practices the following year. Just remember to consider soil erosion consequences when deciding to till a field.
Weed management is one of those continuous tasks to think about all season long and fall is no exception.