K-State Research and Extension News
August 07, 2012
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Control Weeds in Wheat Stubble Before They Set Seed

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Some areas in Kansas have received just enough rainfall to have large broadleaf and grassy weeds actively growing in harvested wheat stubble, said Curtis Thompson, K-State Research and Extension weed management specialist. This should be a red flag to producers.

“These weeds are utilizing moisture and nutrients that would be available for a subsequent crop. It is a good idea to control these weeds before they set seed,” Thompson said.

Kochia and Russian thistle are day-length sensitive and usually begin flowering in late July and early August, and set seed shortly after that, he said. It is important to control kochia and Russian thistle now before viable seed can form. If these weeds are allowed to form seed, the seed will likely cause a problem in following crops.

“It is especially important to prevent seed production on fields that will be planted to crops with limited options for weed control, such as grain sorghum, sunflower, or annual forages,” Thompson said. “It is difficult to control broadleaf weeds in sunflower and grassy weeds in sorghum that emerge after crop emergence. Preventing weed seed production ahead of these crops is essential.”   

Seed of some weed species can remain viable for several years so allowing weeds to produce seed can create weed problems for multiple years.

If the field will be planted to Roundup Ready corn or soybeans, producers may decide they can wait and control any weed and grass seed that emerge next season with a post-emergence application of glyphosate.

However, with the concerns over the development of glyphosate-resistant weeds, it would be far better to control these weeds and grasses now in wheat stubble, the K-State weed scientist said. That way, other herbicides with a different mode of action can be tank-mixed with glyphosate to ensure adequate control.

“To control weeds in wheat stubble fields, producers should start by applying the full labeled rate of glyphosate with the proper rate of ammonium sulfate additive. It is also a good idea to add 2,4-D or dicamba to the glyphosate. Do not apply the growth regulator herbicides around cotton,” Thompson said.

“Tank mixes of glyphosate and either 2,4-D or dicamba will help control weeds that are difficult to control with glyphosate alone, and will help reduce the chances that glyphosate-tolerant weed populations will develop,” he added.

What about adding atrazine for residual weed control in fallow? Although atrazine provides residual control of weeds, it is best applied later in the fall.

“Atrazine residual is quite short and will not provide adequate control of fall emerged weeds or winter annuals if applied in late July or early August. An application of atrazine needs to be made in the fall -- early October into November -- depending on the weeds being targeted,” Thompson said.

Also, keep in mind that atrazine antagonizes glyphosate.

“Do not apply atrazine with reduced rates of glyphosate. Atrazine can be synergistic with Gramoxone; however, the spectrum of weeds controlled with this combination will be less than with glyphosate,” the weed scientist said.

Finally, remember that an application of atrazine may limit subsequent crop selection.


K-State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well-being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county Extension offices, experiment fields, area Extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K-State campus, Manhattan.

Story by: Steve Watson
K-State Research & Extension News

Curtis Thompson is at 785-532-3444 or cthompso@ksu.edu