Wheat Grower Aims for Weed Control Flexibility

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Gary Honeyman and Jordan Kouba

The realities of weather, field conditions and calendar dates often alter planting plans.

“In 2020 and 2021, the weather dictated much of what we planted,” says wheat producer Gary Honeyman of Regent, North Dakota. “We seeded more acres of wheat because that’s what crop insurance was telling us to do based on our drought conditions.”

When Honeyman was searching for a broad-spectrum herbicide to rid his fields of troublesome kochia, buckwheat, volunteer canola and Russian thistle, he turned to his retail agronomist Jordan Kouba for advice.

“My first questions are always: What are your weeds? Which crops are you planting? And what is your crop rotation?” says Kouba, an agronomist with Wilbur Ellis in Mott, North Dakota.

Simple, efficient weed control is the primary goal, Kouba says. The ability to flex to other crops where needed also factors into her recommendations.

Kouba says she also aligns her crop protection recommendations with programs that most benefit her growers. “TruChoice offers significant savings,” she says.

A need for rotational flexibility

“Rotational freedom was huge this year, because people were changing their planting plans on the fly due to weather conditions,” Kouba says.

Faced with troublesome broadleaf weeds, including kochia, buckwheat and volunteer canola, Kouba recommended Honeyman apply a tank mix that included Starane® Flex herbicide.

“We needed a product that could be tank-mixed with other crop protection products, as well as one that left the door open to crop rotation,” Honeyman says. “We want our fields clean and we don’t want weeds going to seed.”

His weed control plan for wheat included Starane Flex herbicide for broadleaf weeds, Everest 3.0 herbicide for grasses, 2,4-D LV6 for Russian thistle and a fungicide for tan spot (yellow leaf spot) control.

“Rotational freedom was huge this year, because people were changing their planting plans on the fly due to weather conditions.”
— Jordan Kouba

“We are very happy with this year’s tank mix. This is our first year using Starane Flex, and we are finding that it’s better on kochia and volunteer canola than other herbicides,” Honeyman says. “It also gives us the flexibility to make applications from four-leaf to flag leaf growth stages.”

While the farm’s primary crop is no-till wheat, the Honeymans rotate their spring wheat crop with canola, sunflower, flax and soybeans.

“Corteva Agriscience offers us a large portfolio of products, allowing us to rotate to different products that best fit that year’s weed pressure and crop rotation plans,” Honeyman says.

Factoring in resistance development

Another concern when choosing a weed control product is herbicide resistance.

Honeyman says he has experienced resistance with both kochia and wild oats in his spring wheat.

“As a general rule, kochia is tougher to control than it was five years ago. Last year, I had nothing but problems controlling kochia. It used to be that anything would control it,” he says. “Resistance, especially with wild oats, is forcing us to change our rotations and do things a little differently.”

Where resistant wild oat populations exist, Honeyman says, he plans to rotate from wheat to multiple years of flax, sunflowers, corn or soybeans to improve weed control.

Learning from the next generation

Honeyman Farms includes Gary’s son, Carter, the farm’s fourth generation.

“I’m old school and sometimes I’m resistant to change, but my son, Carter, has a different mindset,” Gary says. “Carter is who will adopt the newest technology for our farm, including zone-prescription fertilizer, soil sampling and the latest equipment, such as the new sprayer we’re adding to be more efficient.

“Every acre has to be farmed efficiently to succeed in this business. We’ve had success doing what we’re doing, but we’re always looking to do better.”

Starane® Flex is not registered for sale or use in all states. Contact your state pesticide regulatory agency to determine if a product is registered for sale or use in your state. Always read and follow label directions.