Harvest is progressing in much of Ohio, though recent rains have slowed field activities in some areas. As crops continue to come off it’s a good time for a reminder about the value of fall-applied herbicides. Rains this past week may stimulate winter annual weed emergence to some extent. This is the best time of year to control winter annuals and some of the more difficult to manage overwintering weed species. Biennial and perennial plants are now sending nutrients down to the root systems in preparation for winter. Systemic herbicides like glyphosate and 2,4-D applied at this time will be translocated down into the roots more effectively than if applied in spring when nutrients are moving upward. This results in better control. In addition, the increasingly unpredictable spring weather patterns we have experienced in recent years can influence the timing and efficacy of spring burndown applications. Fall-applied herbicides can lead to weed free situations going into spring until early emerging annuals begin to appear in April, and are an essential component in the control of marestail and other overwintering species.
Here are some reminders when it comes to fall-applied herbicides:
- Evaluate weed emergence and growth post-harvest to help determine if an application is necessary.
- Fall-applied herbicides should primarily target weeds that are emerged at the time of application.
- Species present in large quantities late-season that would necessitate the application of an herbicide include (but are not limited to): marestail, dandelion, wild carrot, poison hemlock, common chickweed, purple deadnettle, henbit, annual bluegrass, and cressleaf groundsel.
- OSU research has not found much of a benefit from adding metribuzin or other residual products late in the fall. The exception to this is chlorimuron, which can persist into the spring. The recommendation here has generally been to keep costs low in the fall and save those products for spring when you will get more bang for your buck.
- Herbicides generally work across a range of conditions, though activity can be slower as temperatures drop. Foliar products are most effective when daytime temperatures are in the 50s or higher and nighttime temperatures remain above 40.
Table 1 in the Weed Control Guide for Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri provides ratings for various overwintering weed species in response to fall-applied herbicides. For questions related to the identification and control of weeds, reach out to Alyssa Essman at Essman.firstname.lastname@example.org.