Studies may help you battle weeds
Among crop research currently underway at the South Dakota State University Southeast South Dakota Research Farm, or SESD, near Beresford, two studies could have implications specifically for producers who are battling especially troublesome weed issues, or who are certified organic and unable to use chemical herbicides.
At the farm’s summer research day recently, SDSU plant scientist David Karki explained three years of research on identifying winter wheat lines that have the greatest ability to compete with weeds. Of special interest to organic growers, Karki said that the research might also help conventional farmers looking for wheat genetics that will help them overcome the most troublesome weeds in their fields.
Of 30 winter wheat lines, two triticale lines and one winter rye variety, the rye, as expected, had the least amount of weed biomass. This was followed by the triticale varieties and two lines of wheat. “High-yielding wheat lines are not necessarily the best weed-suppressing lines,” Karki said. “You need to balance yield and weed suppression.” According to Karki, lines that exhibited the best weed suppression potential had rapid spring growth, good height and a leaf angle that overcame weed growth.
The studies came about because among organic farmers, it is well-known that the best weed suppression comes from rotating cool-season and warm-season crops. Karki contended that winter wheat is a good potential cool-season crop for southeast South Dakota, so if genetic lines can be identified that also suppress weeds, it would be useful to producers.
Weed flaming is also being studied at the research farm as a non-chemical method for organic and conventional farmers to beat tough weeds. SDSU agronomy graduate student Ben Arlt has been working with flaming studies at the farm over the past two years. Using a flaming unit designed by Agricultural Flaming Innovations, in the past he has used recommended propane doses for broadcast treatments that cover the entire plot, and banded treatments about 6 inches directly over growing corn. However, his results were not conclusive, so Arlt told summer tour participants that he increased the dosage slightly this season in hopes of better results. His June broadcast treatments were increased from the recommended rate of 12 gallons of propane per acre to 15 gallons per acre, with banded treatments about half of the broadcast rate. He said that broadcast treatments cost about $30 per acre, but with last year’s corn yields on flamed fields at nearly 155 bushels per acre and certified organic corn prices soaring to around $13 per bushel, the treatments will pay off. In addition to the flaming treatments, the fields were also cultivated, Arlt said.
Learn more about these studies at SESD at its winter meeting, or call the farm at 605-563-2989.
This article published in the November, 2014 edition of DAKOTA FARMER.
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