The late summer/early fall planting season is quickly approaching, for guys that live in the far North it’s here. We are often asked what are some tips for good seed bed prep. I believe one of the biggest reasons for poor seed bed prep is trying to work soil with too much green or overgrown vegetation. This problem is magnified when coupled with inadequate equipment.
It is really tough to prepare a good seed bed when you are trying to disc or till under massive amounts of green vegetation. Your disc or tiller simply can’t work as it is supposed to with the tonnage of grass and weeds in the way. A properly timed non selective herbicide application can kill the unwanted weeds and dry them down where your equipment can function much more efficiently saving you a lot of tractor/atv time and fuel.
Many who are unfamiliar with herbicides are afraid of spraying a non selective herbicide like round-up (glyphosate) in fear that it may affect their planting. Glyphosate is a contact only herbicide and has no soil or residual activity, in other words if it doesn’t touch the green tissue of a living plant it is non effective. This allows you to spray very close to your planting time to help your crop get a jump start on any weeds. The ideal timing for mowing and spraying can take 2-4 weeks before planting to really get good results, so the time to act is now.
Follow these tips for good pre–planting herbicide applications.
- Read The Label-the information on the herbicide labels contain great info and will identify what weeds it kills and what the recommended rate is.
- Spray when grasses or broadleaf weeds are young and thriving. If the field is tall and overgrown, the results will often be less than desirable. If weeds are already tall and mature mow first and return a few days later to spray the new re-growth even if it is minimal.
- For optimal results, use AMS (ammonium sulfate). AMS will increase the effectiveness of the herbicide by helping the weeds readily trans-locate the herbicide to the roots for a good kill.
- Don’t skimp on water. Many times the correct amount of herbicide is used but not enough water is added to thoroughly spray the field. In a pre-plant burn down always try and use 15-20 gallons of solution per acre.
- Know the size of the fields you are going to be spraying so you can apply the appropriate amount of solution. To practice and calibrate your sprayer, find a field and measure it with a GPS or use a range finder to determine the acreage. Fill your spray tank with just water and take note of the speed you travel and the amount of water you apply over the known area. This will eliminate guesswork and yield better spray results.