Tips to manage those fallow acres this fall

Ground view of farmers inspecting soybean field

As we head into fall, farmers with fallow fields likely will be searching for weed control answers. Without proper management, weed pressure next spring and beyond could be disastrous. That will only be amplified if fall brings another wave of cool, wet conditions.

The good news is that there are some management options available to them — even now. These include mechanical methods like tillage, cover crops, herbicide applications — or a combination of these. Review these quick tips and be prepared to help your customers figure out the approach that works best for them.

1.       The tillage option
Tillage may be an option in some fallow fields to help manage weed pressure. But it depends on the tillage system. On conventional till acres, tillage is an option. Here, if fields are particularly weedy, it might require two passes. But even using multiple passes has its limitations in terms of effectiveness, especially on larger weeds. Also, it’s important to remember that tillage affects both emerged weeds, but also seedbanks.

2.       Consider cover crops
There are still cover crop options available for fallow acres that can help prevent further weed infestation, as well as avoid fallow ground syndrome in crops next spring. For example, if farmers plan to plant soybeans in those fields next season, winter cereals, especially cereal rye, are particularly beneficial in that they provide very good weed suppression and excellent erosion control.

But while cover crops can help prevent more weeds from emerging, they won’t do anything to control weeds that were already present.

3.       Fall burndown using herbicides
On no-till acres, the most effective fall weed control option for fallow fields is a strong burndown application. If planting fall cover crops, a burndown ensures a clean field to plant into. If fields will stay fallow through the winter, a burndown application helps ensure less work will be needed in the spring to get fields ready for planting.

Fall burndown is especially effective on winter annuals like marestail, which is generally considered the most difficult weed to control if it can overwinter into the spring. When this happens, marestail and other tough winter annuals grow rapidly as temperatures warm, robbing soil of two critical inputs for production: moisture and nitrogen.

It’s important to research options before making a burndown recommendation as many soybean herbicide options are not labeled for fallow field use. One good fit is Elevore® herbicide, which is not only labeled for fallow field use but also works in challenging fall climate conditions. It has excellent activity on marestail, even up to 8 inches tall, as well as other ALS- and glyphosate-resistant species.

More benefits to farmers of fall burndown with Elevore include:

  • Providing the ability to combine a fall burndown treatment to control late-season emerged weeds with a spring residual herbicide treatment for enhanced weed control through planting.
  • Controlling winter annuals before they get established, so fields are ready to plant as soon as farmers are ready.
  • Reducing the dead mat of weeds that may remain after a spring burndown, which speeds soil warming and dryout, especially in no-till fields.
  • Helping create a warmer, drier seedbed for uniform emergence and better seedling vigor.
  • Reducing insect pressure by controlling weeds that serve as habitat for populations to become established.

Additionally, through Sept. 30, farmers who have earned Corteva Cash through the TruChoice® offer can use it to purchase Elevore.