Monday, April 22, 2024

Adapt Your Program To Match Conditions


Thad Baker

PCA, Helena Agri-Enterpises LLC
Chico and Yuba City, California

I grew up farming with my dad and uncle in the 1970s-80s on a large ranch established by my grandfather. We were one of the first families to grow rice in the Sacramento Valley. When two of my brothers joined the operation, I decided to go to Montana State University and major in crop and soil science/agronomy. 

After graduating, I was in the vegetable seed business for about 12 years, then moved to the fertilizer/chemical field and became a Pest Control Adviser. I have worked for Helena Agri- Enterprises for 13 years, and 2022 will be my 16th year as a PCA.

Water Availability Affects Weed Control Strategies

The main lesson I learned last season is to get on the weeds early. We are seeing more herbicide resistance and can’t control water availability and weather, so we must be prepared to deal with them as they happen. Another lesson learned is not to skip a herbicide application. We have to go full bore to get it done.

Grandstand® CA herbicide is always in the tank with propanil at the 6- to 8-ounce rate for rice weed control. In 2021, barnyardgrass was really competing with the crop. We had a hard time getting it under control in the early stages. Other problem weeds were sedge, smallflower umbrella plant and watergrass. When you use products such as Clincher® CA herbicide and RebelEX® CA herbicide, we typically flood the field, drop the water, wait 10 days for the rice to reach the right stage to make a ground application and then reflood.

Last year, we got the inches of water we wanted, but the ditches were lower and the amount of water coming into the field was less. Farmers in the district weren’t allowed water for the second flood, so these products weren’t candidates for that type of cultural system. We had enough water to establish the crop but not enough to get the weeds sprayed and then add more water. Farmers who had wells were able to reflood quickly, so they could still use Clincher CA and RebelEX CA. Granite® SC herbicide, which is a liquid formulation, can be applied with a boom midseason, so it was a good play for weed control in 2021.

Watergrass Control For Different Scenarios

Granite® GR herbicide is a good product for watergrass control if you have warm weather and no scum before the weed gets too big. You don’t want water over the rice if there is scum growing. If we are getting ready for a Granite GR program, we’ll fly on Tracite 5% Copper or Tracite 4×4 at the seedling stage to combat algae. Last year, the scum was growing fast because the temperatures were so hot. In that situation, another option is to apply Granite SC mixed with propanil.

In a wet year, watergrass will start to grow early. First-leaf watergrass may be present when the seed is just getting in the water. You can apply Regiment herbicide on 4-leaf rice, but most growers apply it on 5-leaf rice at the higher rate. If the rice is larger than 2.5-leaf, you can go to Granite GR or Granite SC to kill the big grass before it gets out of control. That’s when these products play well with the conditions you are facing.

Although the issues today are more involved than they used to be, I am looking forward to a prosperous, successful season and hoping everyone else has one, too. Be ready for the challenges and maintain a positive outlook.

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