Strive For Early Season Weed Control

RebelEX by Dow AgroSciencesAs soon as I could legally drive a truck, Arkansas crop consultant Danny Moore hired me to work for him, which I did for 10 years. We checked a lot of rice during that time. In 2008, I joined ProAg Services LLC, an independent consulting business owned by Brent Lassiter, in Newport, Ark.

Last year was rough for Arkansas rice farmers. We had high expectations early in the season and then experienced a lot of heat in July when the rice was heading, which resulted in a number of blanks. In August, we were hit with cool temperatures and cloudy, rainy weather for two solid weeks. This July/August roller coaster ride caused yield and quality losses at harvest.

Last year was rough for Arkansas rice farmers. We had high expectations early in the season and then experienced a lot of heat in July when the rice was heading, which resulted in a number of blanks. In August, we were hit with cool temperatures and cloudy, rainy weather for two solid weeks. This July/August roller coaster ride caused yield and quality losses at harvest.

Two weeds that challenge us the most are barnyardgrass and sprangletop. Much of the barnyardgrass is resistant to multiple chemistries, and sprangletop is difficult to control. We also have to make adjustments to our herbicide game plan where we have isolated cases of ALS herbicide-resistant rice flatsedge.

At planting, we start stacking residual herbicides with a clomazone and quinclorac tankmix to get out in front of barnyardgrass and sprangletop. At the two- to three-leaf growth stage of rice, if soil moisture is good and temperatures are moderate, we apply RebelEX. This herbicide has done a good job of controlling those hard-to-kill weeds. We’ve seen up to 14 days residual control of barnyardgrass with RebelEX. If we are able to spray it in May on an 80-degree day as opposed to a 95-degree day or higher in June or July, RebelEX really shines. Weeds are more susceptible to the herbicide in an early environment under the right conditions.

Grasp Xtra Herbicide from Dow AgroSciencesClincher also has a good fit early in the season. Whether we spray Clincher or RebelEX depends on the weed spectrum. If grass and broadleaf weeds, such as coffeebean and indigo, are in the field, we apply RebelEX. If just barnyardgrass, sprangletop and/or signalgrass are present, we pull the trigger with Clincher. We apply Grasp Xtra right before flood, which often helps us avoid making a mid-season herbicide application.

As a consultant and an agronomist, I like to be prepared. A critical part of pre-season planning is communicating with neighboring farmers. It’s helpful to exchange planting intentions about what crops will be in what fields. If it’s rice, find out if it will be Clearfield or conventional. This information will save a lot of headaches when it comes time to spray rice in April and May. And although planning is important, don’t be afraid to deviate from the plan if extenuating circumstances arise.

So far, this year is reminiscent of the 2012 season, which would be a good one to replicate. As a man of faith, I find strength in believing God is in control of things, will protect us and ultimately give us what we need.

Joey Branch

Joey Branch

Joey Branch
ProAg Services LLC
Newport, Ark.

  • B.S., agriculture business with an emphasis on marketing and management, Arkansas State University
  • Beginning his 10th season with ProAg Services LLC, an
    independent consulting business owned by Brent Lassiter
  • Consults on rice, cotton, soybeans, corn, wheat and grain sorghum
  • American Society of Agronomy Certified Crop Adviser
  • Arkansas Certified Crop Adviser
  • Married to wife, Jennifer. Two children: daughter Josie, 8; and son Tate, 4
  • Enjoys deer and duck hunting, spending time with the family and being outdoors