The dry weather has stressed many farmers in the Midwest, but the lack of rain seems to have created a silver lining in terms of fewer weeds.
“For control it’s been a highly variable year,” said Meaghan Anderson, Iowa State University Extension field agronomist based in central Iowa. “I feel like it was a struggle in a lot of fields but soybean fields across our area seem to be holding waterhemp back fairly well for now.”
The EPA’s label amendments in February created an early cutoff date for over-the-top (OTT) spraying of dicamba around the Midwest, but a fairly quick planting season led to few problems in terms of application.
Now decisions about planting dicamba-tolerant crops are coming up for the next growing season.
“We are all about choice,” said Trevor Houghton, Beck’s Hybrids product specialist. “It’s up to the grower as far as what technology they want to use.”
Houghton said farmers in his area of Nebraska will likely continue with heavy use of dicamba-tolerant products due to its effectiveness in those soils. Nebraska did not see a decrease in their spraying window, as farmers were able to spray through June 30. For those in other areas looking to switch, there are other options out there, he said.
“There hasn’t been much yield difference between the two varieties,” Houghton said. “They are within about a half bushel of each other.”
Matt Vandehaar, a Corteva agronomist based in Iowa, said in even with a shortened window, the focus will be on getting as much growing time as possible. The continued trend of earlier-planted soybeans is likely to continue, which adds a little flexibility to that earlier herbicide cutoff date.
“Most people stuck with their plan they made when they bought their seeds and try to get their fullest maturity in, and that should be the case this year,” Vandehaar said during an interview shortly after the EPA announcement.
He said if there is any change, it may be looking at varieties that allow for multiple modes of control.
“We saw a lot of adjustment for more flexibility that doesn’t have calendar cutoff dates,” Vandehaar said. “But we’ve been looking at a huge adoption of that anyway. In Iowa, that was 90% of our sales for 2023 so that has already been happening.”
While the shorter window has yet to show much effect, the impacts could be coming in 2024. Whether that shows up in terms of variable weed control or seed selection, that will be up to weather and the farmers making those decisions, Vandehaar said.