Year-round weed control for Fuchs
Bob Fuchs doesn’t wait until spring to begin combating weeds.
“Actually, my weed control starts in the fall,” the Olfen, Texas, farmer says. He grows cotton, grain sorghum and wheat, and runs a cow-calf operation at times, but notes cotton is “our No. 1 cash crop.”
To get a jump on weeds, he uses a burndown herbicide in the fall. In February, he will then apply 2,4-D plus Roundup or a generic glyphosate herbicide in the late winter for henbit, horseweed (aka marestail) and other early weeds.
Horseweed is important to control at that time of year while it is in the rosette stage. Otherwise, horseweed can get extremely tall and tough in a very short time.
• Bob Fuchs doesn’t wait for spring to start his weed control.
• Fuchs stays after weeds in fall, late winter, spring and summer.
• Today’s tech and machinery let him control weeds better.
During cotton planting, Fuchs will go in with another shot of glyphosate. Then during an average growing season, he will opt for two postemergent treatments with glyphosate over the top.
Fuchs grows stacked-gene varieties with the Roundup Ready Flex trait for weeds and Bt for worms.
That weed management approach should get him back to fall cotton harvest season, when he may use some Gramoxone Inteon as a defoliant or as a desiccant to clean up more weeds.
So weed control for Fuchs is during fall, late February, spring planting, in-season and back to fall again. Sometimes he will spray for weeds when the cotton is small, as today’s technology and machinery will let him do that.
Fuchs uses a John Deere MaxEmerge eight-row planter for planting cottonseed. He plants in 40-inch rows, running an eight-in-and-one-out row pattern. That skip lets him go in during the growing season with a four-wheeler and scout for insects.
Fuchs credits his brother, entomologist Tom Fuchs, and Mandy England, a former Integrated Pest Management coordinator, for educating him on the importance of eradicating the boll weevil. The Southern Rolling Plains zone subsequently was the first zone to eradicate the boll weevil in Texas.
“They made a huge difference in farmers realizing what was going on,” Bob Fuchs says. Farmers realized that the enormous damage by the weevil could be stopped, he adds.
“Then Bt cotton arrived, and that gave us growers worm control,” Fuchs says.
That leaves aphids and fleahoppers to watch in cotton during the early growing season, but even then, Fuchs doesn’t rush to treat. He’s against what he calls “automatic treatments” by the calendar.
“I’m real cautious to even treat for aphids or fleahoppers in early season because I’m so protective of beneficial insects,” Fuchs allows. “Lots of times, beneficials will take care of aphids.”
Fuchs says it behooves growers to know the insect thresholds that would justify making a treatment. “Know your threshold, or you may be taking out a lot of your beneficials and not be doing any good,” he says.
Fuchs even goes light with any seed treatments for grain sorghum to help preserve beneficial insect numbers.
For Fuchs, weed control is a far greater concern, especially following the historic 2011 Texas drought, when an enormous amount of hay was shipped into Texas from all over the country. He remembers hay shipments introducing the iron weed into Texas during the 1960s.
“I’m really concerned about [new] weeds that may have come into this country with all the hay that was shipped to Texas,” Fuchs allows. “There’s no telling what kind of weed seed were in the hay, especially that harvested along the highways.”
When Fuchs sees a load of johnsongrass hay roll down the roads along the borders of Fuchs Farms, he’s quick to spray ditches.
Fuchs just doesn’t like weeds.
This article published in the May, 2012 edition of THE FARMER-STOCKMAN.