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Clearfield technique tops with growers

New Clearfield wheat varieties are clearing the way for more rapid adoption of the Beyond herbicide technology, but growers are warned to pay close attention to new supplemental labels for the herbicide to assure they are using it correctly and legally.

“Last year’s label is already out of print,” he says. “This thing changes pretty rapidly, and every year new things come up with this technology.”

That advice from Washington State University agronomist Aaron Esser comes with another warning to growers. Since Clearfield technology is expensive, he says, “make sure you have the weed infestation that warrants your investment.”

Key Points

When using Clearfield technology, check new labels.

Technique is popular with growers in Northwest.

Costs are higher, so make sure it is worth the expense.

Cleaning up grassy weeds using Clearfield varieties “is a major economic investment,” he says.

Importantly, he adds that despite some rumors, “Clearfield winter wheat systems do not reduce the potential for Group 2 herbicide resistance.” Using this technology does not minimize the potential for grassy weed herbicide resistance since Beyond also falls into Group 2 of herbicides.

“A lot of people I meet believe using this technology gets them away from the potential of resistance, but that’s not the case,” he emphasizes.

Simply googling “Beyond” will yield a current supplemental label on the Internet.

Good news

If you opt for the Clearfield concept, there is good news coming, with new varieties in the research wings, and predictions that growers will be able to use more of the chemical on crops to gain greater weed control.

“You will be able to get more than just suppression on some weeds in the future,” says Esser. Certain weeds on the Beyond label are categorized as those that are controlled, while others are listed as weeds that are only suppressed in their growth.

The expanded weed control growers can get from the Clearfield technique is a major reason why more acres are planted to the varieties today in the Pacific Northwest, Esser explains.

Costs can be high for the Clearfield technique, he adds. On a traditional farm of winter wheat and summer fallow with about 12 inches of rainfall annually, Esser looked at Xerpha, 48.5 bushels; Eltan, 46.5 bushels; and ORCF 103 (a Clearfield variety), 44.5 bushels — the average test plot yields for comparisons.

In the traditional system, herbicide grassy weed costs may be about $14 to $15 an acre, and in the Clearfield system it averages $37 to $46 an acre, says Esser. “We’re talking about $21 to $32 an acre more than you might be use to,” he says. That’s why he urges growers to make certain they have a weed infestation that warrants the costs of going to Clearfield technology.

Stick to proper rate

When it comes time to order up the herbicide, growers may be shocked at how much more they will need to spend, he says, and as a result decide to cut back on the amount they use per acre. “The last thing you should do is reduce your rate and, in the end, not get the control you’re after,” cautions Esser.

Clearfield growers should also be aware of what Esser calls a “Catch 22” problem faced when using Group 2 herbicides: “To control some of the problems these chemicals create, you need crop rotation,” he says, “but you are limited in doing that because of the restrictions that apply to some rotation crops.”

For Apl. WFS page 14.tif

WEED WOES: Beyond helps control grassy weed infestations.

This article published in the April, 2011 edition of WESTERN FARMER-STOCKMAN.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2011.