Effective weed control in soybeans has become more and more of a challenge as time goes on. The days of Roundup® cleaning up any field, regardless of weed pressure or species, is a distant memory at this point. The tools for controlling weeds built into soybean traits have advanced which has given us more choices—recently, the Enlist™ soybean trait was brought to market which gives you the herbicide choices of Roundup® and Liberty®, as well as the 2, 4-D weed control methods.
A few years prior, the Xtend® trait came to market which allowed for the use of Roundup® as well as dicamba, and years before that, we have had the GT27 trait that allows for the use of Roundup® and Liberty®. Coming soon to the market will be XtendFlex® which would allow the use of Roundup® and dicamba with the addition of the Liberty® herbicide trait.
In the meantime, we have a curveball thrown at us with the recent EPA court challenges to the Xtend® trait approval process which will create uncertainty for the future of that option for foreseeable the future. But even without that uncertainty, the restrictions we deal with for post-applied dicamba for timely and effective weed control while staying on a very tough label has been quite a challenge.
No Silver Bullets
As you look to 2021 soybean seed technology choices, there are a lot of things to consider. Obviously, effective weed control is necessary for good yields in any crop, so, in cases where you have been struggling to control weeds, what strategies are you going to alter? Choosing an alternate soybean trait can change your options, but start with the realization that none of these traits are a silver bullet for weed control.
Alternate Herbicide Strategies
Altering your post-herbicide products to a different platform can work; however, also remember that, as an example, all of these traits mentioned above can utilize Roundup® and Liberty® together post-applied as opposed to by themselves—in addition to the Enlist® or, potentially, dicamba options. You could also look to add a residual product to a post-application to give another level of control. Also, the reality in soybeans is that a good pre-chemical program is a key base to effective control.
Other Management Changes
Management changes beyond herbicides only could include changing tillage practices or moving to a narrower row width. These new tools with the Xtend® or Enlist® trait work very well as burndown options in no-till situations. Then, as we consider even bigger management changes, there are people starting to use a cover crop in front of no-till soybeans which has shown great promise for helping control tough broadleaves like waterhemp while in some cases reducing the overall chemical applied to the field. So, there are a lot of herbicide and management options that can be altered to potentially provide improved weed control.
Don’t Forget the Basics
It can be easy to focus a lot on weed control, but make sure to cover the basics as well. Yield still drives profit on your farm, so it’s important to pick soybeans with good high-end yield potential which, in part, is driven by agronomics such as tolerance to white mold. In 2021, we are moving into a heavy white mold year due to the 2019 problems across the area, so make sure the soybeans you choose can handle your individual field and management situation. Recent new traits such as Enlist® have somewhat limited genetic diversity, and years of testing and the new XtendFlex® trait (when it gets approved) will also have similar issues, so make sure you understand what you are buying this fall with your soybean varieties and technologies. If you are looking to alter your strategies going into 2021, make sure to have a goal and a plan of attack.
FCS does carry every soybean trait technology in our multiple brand platforms, so make sure to talk through your seed options for soybean traits, and if you want help developing a new management or technology strategy for next year, let us know!