Five fallow field questions answered

closeup of soybean field

For most farmers, this has been a season filled with questions. And fall will likely bring with it more questions, especially as many struggle to manage fields where soybeans didn’t get in the ground. We sat down with Aaron Smith, U.S. soybean herbicides product manager with Corteva Agriscience, to get his take on the situation.

Q: We know poor weather prevented a lot of farmers from planting on a lot of soybean acres this year. How unusual was this year for Midwest farmers in this respect?

A: This was a record year for prevent plant acres. USDA estimates put the number at nearly eight times the historical average. The Midwest was the hardest hit, holding more than 70% of those estimated prevent plant acres. It has set up some really challenging field conditions this fall, particularly for farmers who’ve never had to deal with this situation in the past.

Q: Why is it important for farmers to take steps to manage fallow fields this fall?

A: The most important reason is that we don’t want the weed seedbank to build in those fallow fields. Allowing fields to sit idle through to next spring allows that to happen. These fields need care from now through to next year so they’re in the best possible condition for planting.

Q: What can happen to the weed seedbank if they don’t take any management steps?

A: Resistance management is critical. Many resistant weeds are capable of producing hundreds of thousands of seeds per weed, which will cause issues in fields for more than just the following season. Growers should be taking steps to put best management practices into place, because if they don’t address fallow fields this fall, they will be set up for a challenging season in 2020 and beyond.

Q: What management practices do you recommend?

A: Looking at a variety of management practices is a good idea. Depending on where you live, those practices could include tillage and cover crops. This fall, there will be key weeds that farmers are targeting.

In minimum or no-till situations, weed control will need to be addressed in a different way. A fall burndown herbicide application using Elevore® herbicide is an ideal choice. It has a low use rate of 1 ounce per acre, making Elevore an excellent fit in reduced- and no-till production systems for burndown applications prior to planting soybeanS, corn and cotton.

 

Q: Any final advice for retailers helping manage fallow fields this fall and into next season?

A: It’s important to remember that every geography and every state is different when it comes to fallow field management. Farmers everywhere should work with their local experts to design a plan that works for their specific fields.

By taking steps to manage fallow fields in fall with practices like burndown, fields should be clean and ready for planting in spring. Also, farmers should be using overlapping residuals through the season — this is a best management practice that cannot be forgotten. Growers are working so hard and doing such a great job with resistance management right now, it’s all about continuing that good work.