Producer Nolen Canon just about blankets every rice acre, including Clearfield rice, with a pre-emerge herbicide. “A pre-emerge is grass control insurance,” explains Canon, who farms near Tunica, Miss. “If you get into a real wet environment, the pre-emerge application typically prevents huge grass pressure that competes with the rice.
“We normally use Command and vary its rates according to soil types. We go from one to five ounces on heavy ground, and if we have some lighter ground, we might go from one to six ounces. We normally apply Command as close to planting as possible – the application is usually chasing the drill because, at that time of the year, you can be working one day and rained out the next. We like to start planting the first day of April as soon as the ground is dry and finish as soon as we can. I’d rather have it all planted and maturing at the same time than take a chance on having a lot of late rice because spring rains delayed planting.
“Depending on the type of spring weather pattern that we have, the pre-emergence usually works well. However, we sometimes have problems, particularly if it’s a dry spring, and we have a lot of cracking conditions. In that case, escape weeds will come back into play.”
After Canon applies his pre-emergence herbicide, he utilizes a lot of scouting to determine the different weeds and their population. He determines his weed control program on a field-by-field basis.
Tailors control program
“Not one herbicide offers 100 percent control of everything,” Canon says. “So we first see what weed problems we have in a particular field and then we apply the appropriate herbicides. We have a real good consultant, Tim Sanders, who scouts my fields weekly. And I have a real good rice manager, Terry Pope; one of his primary responsibilities is staying on top of weed management. Both men do an excellent job of selecting the right material for the right field.”
On his non-Clearfield rice, Canon normally follows the pre-emergence application with propanil. “This year we planted Cocodrie, Bowman, RiceTec’s XL723 and some of Bayer’s Arize, which is a hybrid,” he says. “We don’t use as much propanil as we used to a long time ago, but propanil still does a good job, particularly if you use it timely and the temperatures are right because it’s very temperature sensitive. It’s a broadspectrum herbicide.
“Barnyardgrass is our number one weed. We also have less competitive grasses, including sprangletop. Propanil controls those weeds and small weeds such as coffeeweed and morningglory. The absolute lowest rate we’ll go is three pounds of material and we might use up to five pounds, depending on the size of the grass. Grass can grow big very quickly. Timing is critical with herbicides and weeds, and if you run into a situation where you have cool temperatures and the grass is getting big, then you need other options besides propanil.”
If the Command pre-emerge application has worked well, and the propanil application has been delayed until favorable weather conditions, that can be the final shot, depending on the field. “But it rarely is,” Canon says. “We have fields with other weeds, including sedges, coffeeweed and redstem. Depending on the weed species present, we’ll use different chemistry, including Facet and Strada.
“This year, we mainly used Strada in Clearfield rice, but it worked so well in some hybrid rice that we plan to use it in our other rice fields next year. In the Clearfield rice system, we planted CL151 and CL131 this year. We followed the Command pre-emergence application with our first Newpath application, which went out very early—at two-leaf. Then two weeks later, we came back with a second Newpath shot and we added Strada for weeds that Newpath might miss.
“Strada catches a broadspectrum of weeds, including jointvetch (indigo). Additionally, it did a great job on redstem where we followed rice in one field. And it does a good job on coffeebean. We looked at Strada in 2008 in a few fields and used quite a bit of it this past year. The midseason Strada application also offers crop safety on the rice.”
Hit weeds early
For weed control, Canon prefers using ground application when he can; otherwise he calls in an aerial applicator. But whether he sprays by ground or air, he insists on doing it early. “You have to get weeds before they get bad in a rice field,” he explains. “Salvage is not a good word to use when you’re talking rice weed control. It will be expensive and yield reducing. I tell my consultant and rice manager that sometimes it’s a little painful to spend the amount of money necessary to keep a rice crop clean but in the end you’re always more satisfied.”
Isagro contributed information for this article.