Navigating Weed Control in 2024

Soil health remains a key concern for farmers. With spring planting season just ahead, it’s important to take proper steps before and after planting to better control weeds. 

Rodrigo Werle, UW-Extension Cropping Systems Weed Specialist, says recent snow and rain has helped soil moisture improve. This will help farmers manage their weeds in the long-term.

“According to the latest drought monitor released on April 4th, significant improvements have been seen in the southeast region of the state.”

The increased precipitation is expected to bolster soil moisture levels, providing a favorable environment for crop growth and development.

Werle emphasized the importance of the recent moisture for growers. He says, “The moisture we’ve received will certainly aid in the upcoming growing season. While we may not have exact measurements of soil moisture yet, it will undoubtedly impact our approach to weed control.”

One of the key concerns for growers is the potential carryover of herbicides from previous seasons. Werle noted that the recent precipitation in certain areas will likely reduce the likelihood of herbicide carryover. This helps ease worries for farmers as they prepare for planting.

However, the mild winter experienced has prompted caution for growers practicing no-till agriculture. Early emergence of winter annual weeds such as horseweed and chickweed has been observed. Welre urges farmers to assess their fields and consider appropriate weed management strategies.

“Timing is crucial when it comes to weed control. With fluctuating temperatures, it’s essential for growers to pay close attention to weather conditions before applying herbicides to ensure optimal effectiveness.”

Looking ahead, Werle provided recommendations for managing common weeds such as waterhemp, ragweed, and mare’s tail. He stressed the significance of timely application of herbicides and vigilant scouting of fields.

Furthermore, he addressed the role of cover crops in weed suppression. He advises growers to monitor cover crop growth and consider early termination in dry conditions to prevent them from becoming a weed problem in subsequent crops.