4 Preharvest Evaluations for a Better Next Season

Scouting in the preharvest helps see crop protection results to plan to improve the following season.

With commodity prices at historically low levels, the pressure is on for every input dollar to boost the bottom line. Preharvest time is when you should be scouting fields to determine how your crop protection strategies fared and begin planning for the next season.

Even if this year’s crop has largely been made, the weed and disease competition your crops faced this season is likely to repeat — or even intensify — next year. Here are four ways preharvest evaluations that can help you achieve more next year.

1. Know field history

Keeping track of weed and disease challenges each year is essential for long-term planning. A strong foundation of historical observations informs the decisions you make each fall.

There are two ways to go about record keeping. The tried-and-true method for field evaluations is with a field map and notebook. Digitally savvy growers may find a smartphone’s camera, GPS mapping and cloud storage capabilities more helpful.

Whatever tools you use, gather this key information:

  • Weed species
  • Growth stage
  • Location
  • Density (number of weeds per 10 square feet)

2. Control herbicide resistance

A diversified management plan is the most effective method of controlling herbicide resistance. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix. It is likely weeds found in the preharvest crop period have already gone to seed and are set to germinate next year.

Applying multiple herbicide modes of action can control resistant weeds and delay its evolution. Use herbicides with residual control to give your crops a better chance of outcompeting yield-robbing weeds and meeting their yield potential.

Incorporating management practices is equally important, particularly crop rotation. Different crops with different planting dates and production practices are more competitive, which limits weed growth. Tillage can also be an effective means of controlling existing weeds and disrupting soil seedbanks.

3. See the big (weed) picture

There are many reasons for weed escapes, so you can’t expect to prevent them in the future if you haven’t figured out their cause.

Many growers immediately suspect herbicide resistance as the culprit behind weed escapes. This isn’t always the case. Weeds are often too large for adequate control by the time follow-up applications are made. Herbicide selection, weather conditions and poor application practices all contribute to weed escapes you see before harvest.

Whether you have herbicide resistance or not, your local DuPont Crop Protection representative can help you pinpoint the cause of weed escapes and plan a more effective strategy for next year.

4. Understand disease risk

A warm, dry summer gave many growers confidence that fungicide applications would be unnecessary. However, many of those same growers regret their decision when wet late-summer weather leads to late-season disease.

Disease outbreaks are unpredictable. Late-season outbreaks can still affect crop production by weakening stands. And if diseases are moving up the plant, you may need to move up your harvest date or harvest for silage.

The greatest risk, however, is in seasons to come. The fungi that cause many of the diseases in this area survive in crop residue. Ignoring late-season infestations because they won’t significantly affect yield this year can compound the problem in the future.

If you’ve dealt with diseases in the past several years, your fields are at risk from canopy closure to harvest — all it takes is a few days of bad weather to set off an infection. Be sure to establish your plan for disease control the following year, using all available tools from crop rotation to strategic fungicide application.

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