Tuesday, May 4, 2010

My Pet Peeve - Dandelions

Those of you who read the financial press know when an author writes about a company they should disclose whether they own shares of that company.

Here is my disclosure for the day. It is dandelion season and I hate dandelions. Cathy, who loves flowers more than most people, hates dandelions. Dandelions are relatively easy to control when they are young, but much tougher when they are 3-4 years old like the rascals in this picture.

On our farm we have a three step formula for keeping dandelions out of our crops.
1.It starts with a fall application of glyphosate in wheat stubble. Dandelions seed in the summer and early fall. Glyphosate is deadly on seedling dandelions in the fall. Dandelions also do not like being disturbed. We use a light tillage pass with a disc, or other vertical tillage tools or sometimes heavy tillage with a disc ripper. This eliminates dandelions from our corn crop.
2.In the corn crop we use soil residual herbicides like Primextra or this year we have tried some Integrity, a new product from BASF. If we need a post emerge application we use glyphosate to tidy up the field. Nor sure what impact this has on dandelions, but we have a clean field and very few dandelions in our corn stubble.
3.In soybeans we always include Classic as part of our herbicide mix. Classic gives practically 100% control of young dandelions through the growing season. We rarely have to spray our wheat in the spring for dandelions and I credit this to our use of Classic. Our goal is to get a wheat crop that looks like this.

In our opinion, farmers get into trouble with dandelions by waiting too long to go after them and putting too much faith in glyphosate alone in the spring.

This is an example of the effect alfalfa cutting dates have on dandelions the following spring. The left hand side of the photo was cut in the fall, the right hand side was left uncut last fall. The healthier regrowth on the right has kept the dandelion population in check.

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