Cleaning Equipment to Prevent Spreading Weed Problems Around

Mark VanGessel, Extension Weed Specialist; mjv@udel.edu

This summer has been very challenging for weed control so I want to remind you to not spread the problems around the farm. I have seen a number of fields with heavy weed pressure due to escapes. Some of these are suspected to be resistant biotypes, others just hard to control weeds and others are due to poor herbicide performance as a result of the summer drought. If a particular weed is giving you headaches, wouldn’t you rather deal with it in only one field rather than all of your fields? Ask yourself, what you would do if you could no longer use the best herbicide for a problem weed. In vegetables, where we only have one or two broadleaf herbicides, what are your options when they are no longer effective?

Granted weeds that get blown around (like marestail or thistle) or spread (by birds like pokeweed) are difficult to prevent. Nevertheless, many of our problems are due to moving seeds from field to field on equipment; pigweed and lambsquarters are two that come to mind. Take the time to clean the equipment in the field before it gets moved and isolate where those infestations are located. A new weed species or a resistant biotype does not just take over a field in one year. A few plants get started and they produce seeds which next year leads to more plants and more seeds (see where this is going). Prevent the problems from developing and spreading. Clean the equipment and leave the seeds where you found them.

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