Focus On Weeds & Fertility

Greg Pylman
Pest Control Adviser, Wilbur-Ellis Company
Willows, California


I grew up on a small farm in the Delta. After graduating from Chico State, I had an opportunity to enter the fertilizer industry. I took the required proficiency exam to obtain a Pest Control Adviser license, went into sales at a fertilizer business, then joined Wilbur-Ellis Company, which is a major retailer.

The 2013 California rice crop was challenging from the beginning. Relentless north winds made it difficult for growers to manage their flood waters. Some fields that got caught in certain wind events had thinner stands of rice than normal. Eventually, the weather straightened out, and we had moderate temperatures with no wind during the summer. The thinner stands filled in fairly well, and growers experienced good tillering on most fields. Overall, yields were good, and, in some cases, quality was a little higher than average.

However, we did have some challenging weed situations, and every field is unique in its weed spectrum. One program involves applying eight pounds of Cerano for excellent sprangletop control, followed by Granite GR at 3-leaf stage rice for ducksalad and watergrass control and some suppression of roughseed bulrush. This program, which has worked well, takes pressure off our cleanup sprays, which always include propanil.

Regiment herbicide – applied 24 days after seeding – is also used to control watergrass. Shark is becoming a popular herbicide for roughseed bulrush, although it has to be applied by ground or in the water by direct stream using a helicopter with drop nozzles at 2-leaf stage rice. In fields with several major target weeds, multiple herbicide applications may be applied.

Some growers use the Leather’s method where they flood the field, then sow the crop. After the roots are about one-quarter inch long, they drain the field and spray Clincher CA herbicide for watergrass and sprangletop. Then they reflood. Later on, growers spray propanil and Grandstand CA as their cleanup. It’s an alternate program if the chemicals fit the weed spectrum.

Besides weed control, fertility is an important consideration. We conduct soil tests and, with that information, make recommendations as to how much phosphorous, potash, zinc and sulphur to apply along with the nitrogen. About 95 percent of the programs involve a preplant application of injected aqua ammonia followed by either a liquid or dry application of ammonium phosphate as a starter.

As the 2014 season approaches, identify your fertility needs and only apply what is necessary. Be sure not to overlook phosphorous. Failing to apply phosphorous or using rates that are too low seems to reduce yield potential. In addition to focusing on fertility, know which key weeds need to be controlled and develop an effective program for that field or ranch.

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Greg Pylman

• B.S. degree in Agricultural Mechanics with a minor in Agronomy – Chico State

• Member of California Association of Pest Control Advisers (CAPCA)

• Member of Certified Crop Advisers (CCA)

• Primarily consults on rice and corn. Also consults on walnuts and various field crops and seed crops, such as alfalfa, sunflowers for seed, cucumbers for seed, etc.

• Married to wife, Mary. Four children and six grandchildren.

• Mary and Greg enjoy horseback riding, camping and traveling to visit their children and grandchildren.

Recap: Focus On Key Weeds & Fertility

1. Overall, in 2013, yields were good, and quality, in some cases, was a little higher than average.

2. To combat challenging weed situations, one program we use involves applying 8 pounds of Cerano for excellent sprangletop control, followed by Granite GR at 3-leaf stage rice for ducksalad and watergrass control and some suppression of roughseed bulrush.

3. Regiment herbicide – applied 24 days after seeding – is also used to control watergrass. Shark is becoming a popular herbicide for roughseed bulrush, although it has to be applied by ground or in the water by direct stream using a helicopter with drop nozzles at 2-leaf stage rice.

4. Some growers use an alternate program called the Leather’s method if the chemicals fit the weed spectrum.

5. We conduct soil tests for fertility and make recommendations as to how much phosphorous, potash, zinc and sulphur to apply along with the nitrogen. Failing to apply phosphorous or using rates that are too low seems to reduce yield potential.

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