Herbicide Carryover Can Hurt Annual Forage Production

Beefs and Beliefs

In droughty times annual forage production can be an important product of cropland acres. Don't sacrifice it with poor herbicide choices.

Published on: April 4, 2013
 

A few days ago Bruce Anderson with the University of Nebraska did a nice radio broadcast about herbicide carryover damaging annual forage crops.

Considering the state of many perennial pastures in the nation I think it's information worth passing along. Annual forages may be a big component of beef production this year and could give some much-needed recovery time to abused pastures.

"Many annual forages are sensitive to herbicide carryover, such as from atrazine," Anderson said. "Often we identify a forage or cover crop to plant but the risk of failure is too high due to herbicides. This problem isn’t limited to annual forages, either. Perennial cool-season grasses and alfalfa also are sensitive to herbicide carryover."

Depending on your plans for species, as well as when and how you will plant, this could be extremely important, Anderson said.

For example, if you want the option of flying rye or turnip seed into your standing corn later this year for fall pasture, it could matter. What about planting triticale this fall or oats next spring after a row crop? It could matter. What about irrigated pasture or alfalfa? Same.

Further, if you are considering multi-species cover crops as I wrote about a couple weeks ago, the wrong herbicides could really limit your options.

Anderson said many of these options may not be viable if you use herbicides like atrazine, Balance, Lexar, Expert, Verdict, Pursuit, Hornet, Command, or trifluralin.

So he said to plan ahead and think carefully your herbicide plans. As much as possible you should keep your options open, especially in dry times like we've been having.

"Maybe you can control weeds and maintain the flexibility to plant any forage just by making a small change in the herbicides you use," Anderson said.

Further, be careful about drift on any neighbors who might be using forage and cover crops.

Several years ago when I was on Gene Goven's ranch near Turtle Lake, South Dakota, he showed me a field in which the broadleaf plants in his cover crop had been severely burned back by an herbicide application on the neighbor's farm. Goven uses multi-species cover crops like a growing number of North Dakota farmers to improve soil health and profitability so this was a big loss for him.