The 2021 planting season ran long again this year, starting in late March and continuing into early June. Most growers may schedule their summer or task out by calendar; however, a weed seed plans its unwanted arrival based off growing degree unit, or GDU (heat), and how soon the pre-emerge soybean residual gives up. This means that very soon, it’s going to become difficult to complete post-emergence in crop herbicide application, especially with products that have a stop use date associated with them. Here are some tips to help make post soybean herbicide application a little smoother.

1. Don’t mix companies in the tank

  • When an herbicide is applied to soybean or corn foliage, the plant need to metabolize, or break it down, so that it doesn’t cause prolonged harm to the plant. In some situations, an herbicide load can become too “hot” and may cause short- or long-term harm to a crop. Usually in situations like this, an herbicide manufacturer representative may be called out to evaluate the issues. I usually hear one of the two responses below in these situations:

1.“Well, everything in the tank came from us, so if there was any antagonizing issues, it’s on our end and we will accept responsibility and make sure you’re taken care of at the end of the day.”

2.“With that other product in the tank, I think that’s the reason why my product heated up and caused the problem. You know, if that other product wasn’t in the tank, we would not be having these issues. Mr./Mrs. Farmer, you really need to take this up with the other manufacturer representative.”

And the finger pointing tango begins. For this reason, I have always tried, when possible, to keep company on company products in the tank.

2. Make sure generics are safe:

  • There are more generic herbicides being applied today than over the past 15 years, and by no means am I throwing them under the bus. However, these “me too” products may seem similar or act like their branded counter parts, but there can be some minor differences that may cause a crop response if the crop is weak and the environmental conditions are challenging. It’s a strong recommendation to do your homework, read labels and understand the details such as safeners and types of adjuvants that are in the jug that could cause a potential issue. And if you know these characteristics of the generic herbicide, then you will know when not to spray. Also, find out what type of company backing is there, if there is damage to your crops or others.

3. Tank Partners:

  • With high soybean market prices, many companies are going to be asking producers to put their product into the tank.

“You’re already going across the field.” Or,

“It only costs $5.00/ac.” Or,

“It takes less than a bushel to pay for itself.”

I’m sure every producer has heard this elevator pitch.

  • Items to keep in mind:
    • Why is it in the tank/how will it provide ROI?
    • Where was it tested? (Illinois or Arizona)
    • What percent win does it produce? (75% or 10%)
    • How often is there a positive ROI? (80% or 2%)
    • Will these products cause issues with my primary ingredients in the tank? (Product compatibility, making load hot)

4.  Double Checking:

  • As they say in carpentry, measure twice and cut once. Well, this expression and advice can work with spraying soybeans post. Double check everything to spray once, so you don’t have to plant twice.
  • Items to double check:
    • Double check the soybean variety and soybean traits (Conventional, Liberty, Round Up, Xtend, Xtend Flex, Enlist, etc.) that are planted in each field.
    • Double check that the sprayer has been properly cleaned prior to switch from Corn to Soy
    • Double check tender trucks or mixing station have been thoroughly cleaned.
    • Double check rates: Is the prepay rate from January still appropriate?

5. $90,000 OOPS!

When it’s time to spray, it’s time to spray. It seems like our windows are becoming smaller every year, so we need to make sure we are being efficient with an operator and spray machine’s time.  There’s nothing worse than finishing spraying a field and realizing that you just sprayed the wrong field. The only thing that’s actually worse than this is realizing what was just sprayed will kill the growing crop. As farmers and ag retailers are spread further out from their regional comfort zones, it’s important to make sure that everyone is on the same page with which fields need to be sprayed.  An 80-acre field of miscommunication could end up costing over $90,000 in damage. For $90,000, it’s well worth the time to double check, share detailed maps and provide good direction. With modern technologies, there are some really good mapping programs that can help support this topic.

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About the Author: Todd Steinacher

Steinacher is an ISA CCA Soy Envoy alum and currently supports ISA on agronomic content as well as serving as an Illinois CCA board member. He was recently awarded the 2020 IL CCA of the Year & the 2021 International CCA of the Year. He has over 15 years agronomic experience, currently working with AgriGold and GROWMARK previously. Steinacher has an associate degree from Lincoln Land Community College, a B.S. in agronomy and business from Western Illinois University and a master’s degree in crop science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.