The excellent weed control everyone obtained so cheaply last year gave me as much satisfaction as I have ever had in my career. This year I feel about as low as I have felt, wishing I could have done more.
For the most part, this year's weed control was lost the first couple of weeks after planting, due to lack of moisture. It is not my place to tell those who would not flush that they should have. One of my pet peeves is folks with Ph.D's talking about what they would have done if they were the farmer.
I will say that if you are going to place a significant amount of hopes and herbicide dollars into the soil-applied herbicides in rice, it takes water to make them work. If it doesn't rain, they have to be flushed and the sooner the better.
The Command used in my plots this year was not quite as spectacular as in recent years. I flushed just as the rice was spiking in a few places and did not flush again until after I sprayed my three- to four-leaf rice treatments. I am not saying what I did was brilliant and what most others did was wrong. That is just what I did.
In reality, I would likely have flushed another time or two if I were not the water man in my crew this year. My Command broke a little sooner on broadleaf signalgrass than normal and I could also see a bigger difference between the 12.8-ounce and 16-ounce rates this year. The higher rate was definitely better. Across the board, however, my Command still looks good.
Like last year, one of the standout treatments in my plots this year is the recommended reduced rate of Prowl plus Facet applied as a delayed pre. It has held until flooding on rice that should have been flooded 10 days ago and needs no followup treatment.
Keep in mind also the level of weed pressure I have. I fallowed the plot area last year to grow my barnyardgrass, broadleaf signalgrass, sprangletop and fall panicum for seed. In fact, it got so dry last summer that I was “worried about my weeds,” so I flood-irrigated them.
It took eight diskings this spring to get the grass down to where I could float the ground. Then when I planted the rice, I had a grass seed attachment on the front of my 750 drill that I filled with propanil-resistant barnyardgrass seed and broadcast at a high rate as I planted. When herbicides perform well for me under that pressure, I have full confidence in them in the field.
Maybe we will never have another drought in April, but I hope this one was a good teacher on moisture and soil-applied herbicides.
Ford Baldwin is an Arkansas Extension weed scientist.