Winds complicate rice weed control

Excessive winds have kept a lot of growers from getting Command out with ground rigs before levee formation. Rainfall has been scattered and often sparse. A lot of growers have delayed applying Command due to windy conditions or waiting for a better forecast for rainfall for activation.

I have been asked about a recommendation others are making to let everything emerge, flush the field, and apply Clincher plus Command to the wet soil as a one-shot treatment.

I addressed my philosophy of one-shot weed control programs a couple of articles back. There are a lot of risks in trying to make that work. I stated in that article that it will be difficult to get conditions that involve ideal grass size, optimum conditions for postemergence activity, and activation of the Command all at the same time.

If there is optimum soil moisture for the postemergence herbicide, there will be reluctance to flush the field following treatment. If the field is dry enough to need flushing, then the postemergence herbicide may fail.

Some reportedly are recommending that in preflood situations, Clincher only be applied to saturated soil following a rain or flush. Both Clincher and Ricestar are very dependent upon good soil moisture for activity. Spraying them behind a rain or flush certainly is a good way to use them. We never sprayed any of them in the mud throughout the years in our research program.

When you apply that philosophy to the Clincher-plus-Command tank mix, you get away from the best way to use Command.

As I stated in an article last week, if you apply Command to wet soil, you may get some activation. However, it will not be properly activated until a rain or flush occurs.

Most growers will not be willing to re-flush a field that has just been flushed. Therefore, the philosophy of applying Clincher plus Command on a wet soil to make the Clincher work, as well as having the Command activate on the wet soil, may be more theoretical than practical.

While it may work sometimes, I think it gets you away from the best way to use Command. That is, to apply it as soon as practical after planting, and then get it activated. That may mean delaying the treatment and attempting to fly it on with a good forecast of rainfall.

If we miss the rains, and with the strong winds that have occurred, a lot of rice will have to be flushed. By all means, get the Command out ahead of the flush instead of behind it.

I believe treatments like Clincher/Command and Ricestar/Command have a place. However, that place is not likely going to be on widespread acres as a one-shot program. The key to a cheap weed control program lies in the proper use of Command.

In my experience, the most consistent and the most economical programs are those that use Command as a pre-emergence herbicide and then see where the weeds take you from there.

Ford Baldwin, Practical Weed Consultants. e-mail: [email protected].

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