Does Fall Burndown Pay Off?

George Watters
Agronomy Manager
For farmers who adopt minimum- or no-till practices, controlling weeds throughout the fall can be crucial — particularly for winter annual weeds like marestail and perennials such as dandelions. Overwintered marestail, for example, is very difficult to control in the spring.
 
If we are able to harvest early and we have warm, dry weather, we’ll have a wider window of opportunity for fall herbicide applications.
 
Benefits of Fall Weed-control Applications
There are a number of advantages to doing a fall burndown:
  • Smaller weeds: Weeds are typically smaller in the fall, making them easier to control.
  • Weeds are getting ready for winter: During the fall, plants are translocating most of their nutrients to the roots for overwintering. This means more of the herbicide will move down into the roots and provide good control.
  • Less compaction: Drier soils are better suited to sprayer traffic, minimizing compaction.
  • Earlier planting: With more effective control, fields can dry and warm faster in the spring to allow for tillage and earlier planting.
  • Greater efficiency: Equipment works better in clean fields.
  • Less weed competition: Early-season weed competition is reduced to help crops get a good start and encourage uniform stands.
  • Fewer pest havens: Fewer weeds mean fewer egg-laying sites for insects such as spider mites and cutworms, and no alternate host for soybean cyst nematodes.
Spring Application? Possibly.
Don’t forget to manage weeds into next spring as well. In spite of its benefits, fall burndown generally doesn’t eliminate the need for a residual herbicide program in the spring to achieve effective, season-long weed control.
 
For specific weeds like marestail (a big problem in the eastern Corn Belt), you may also need a spring burndown to take care of what germinates in the season’s early weeks. But if you do a fall burndown, you can at least avoid dealing with tough-to-control, overwintered marestail.
 
Contact your local WinField United retailer to learn more about fall burndown options in your area.
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