Monthly Archives: December 2020

2021 Weed Control Options Come into Clearer View

The recent announcements of the EU approval of RR2XtendFlex (RoundupReady 2 XtendFlex) soybean and EPA approval of three dicamba products has brought a clearer view of soybean weed control options available to Kentucky farmers in 2021.   Prior to these two announcements the waters were murky with unknowns of if the flexibility of the RR2Xtendflex system would be available and if any dicamba formulations would be available to spray on any dicamba tolerant soybean acres.   With the recent announcement came answers and clarification, but also prompted a few more questions and restrictions.

Palmer amaranth

The most recent event to occur was the approval of Xtendimax (Bayer), Engenia (BASF), and Tavium (Syngenta) for applications to DT (dicamba tolerant) soybean.   The three labels stayed largely unchanged from previous versions although crops outside of DT soybean and DT cotton have been removed from the labels.  Restrictions of nozzles, tank mixes, sprayer speed, boom height, wind speed, and temperature inversions remain the same as previous labels.  The restrictions that have changed are rate changes for Xtendimax burndowns, application cutoff date/growth stages, increases in buffer requirements, and the new requirements of a volatility reduction agent or buffer agent.  Each change is described below:

  • Xtendimax can only be applied at a rate of 22 fl oz/a per application, regardless of application timing.  Previous labels allowed up to 44 fl oz/a Xtendimax for preplant/burndown applications, but that rate is no longer labeled.
  • All three labels have a federal cutoff date of June 30th and no application can be made after that date.   The Xtendimax label also indicates a cutoff soybean growth stage of R1,  whereas the Tavium label has a soybean growth stage cutoff of V4.   In both cases whichever occurs first (date or growth stage) takes precedent.  The Engenia label does not include a cutoff growth stage, thus June 30th is the cutoff for this product. 
  • Down wind buffers have been extended from 110 ft in the previous labels to 240 ft in the new labels. Similar to previous labels these buffers can be included in directly adjacent roads, mowed grassy areas, corn fields, DT soybean fields, fields prepared for planting, and/or areas covered by a building.   THIS BUFFER IS NOT INTENDED FOR PROTECITON OF DICAMBA SENSITIVE CROPS,  THE LABELS REMAIN THE SAME IN THAT APPLICATIONS CANNOT BE MADE IF THE WIND IS BLOWING TOWARDS A SENSITIVE CROP SUCH AS NON-DT SOYBEAN, TOBACCO, VINEYARDS, AND TOMATOES.
    • These buffers can be reduced with the use of hooded/shielded sprayers or other approved drift reduction technologies (DRT), as outlined on each label website.
    • Areas in which endangered species are present may need a 310ft downwind buffer plus a 57 ft omnidirectional buffer.  A list of these areas can be found on the Bulletins Live 2 website. 
  • The addition of a volatility reduction agent (VRA) or buffer agent is also required for all three labels in addition to drift reduction agents (DRA) that were required by previous labels.   The list of approved VRA or buffers can be found on each respective products label website.

As in the past, dicamba specific training will still be required prior to application of Xtendimax, Engenia, and/or Tavium.  This training will be offed by the registrants and will largely be available online.

The additional restrictions bring some clarification to past issues of the previous dicamba labels, but the additional restrictions certainly do not make their application easier.  The extension of the downwind buffer to 240 ft may cause havoc as many Kentucky fields are surrounded by trees and thus the buffers will have to be placed within the production field being sprayed.   While the distance in necessary to protect our natural resources and endangered species,  240ft can add up to numerous acres very quickly.  In some cases, the area will be large enough for applicators/farmers to question the feasibility of applying the product to a given field.

The addition of the June 30th cutoff date places a hard deadline on applications, whereas past labels in which growth stages were used allowed many applications to continue to occur in the hot and humid months of July and August.  Weather conditions in Kentucky in July and August simply are not ideal for dicamba applications in any crops, not to mention the numerous sensitive crops that are out during those time of year including tobacco.  This cutoff date does however eliminate a lot of possible uses for double crop soybeans that likely will not be planted until late June and early July, so growers may need to seek an alternative herbicide programs for double crop soybean acres.

Despite the increase in restrictions of the new dicamba labels, the announcement of these labels comes on the heels of the approval of RoundupReady 2 XtendFlex soybean by the EU and thus full clearance for commercial production of those soybean varieties.   The availability of RR2XtendFlex soybean varieties brings versatility to the Xtend platform that can be compared to its closest competitors.   The XtendFlex soybean offers resistance to glyphosate and dicamba the same as RR2Xtend, but also offers glufosinate resistance.   The addition of glufosinate offers postemergence flexibility for farmers who are dealing with glyphosate resistant broadleaves such as Palmer amaranth or waterhemp.   The biggest fallacy, in my opinion, of the RR2Xtend soybean varieties was that farmers were largely married to dicamba for postemergence applications when dealing with waterhemp and Palmer amaranth, especially with the increasing incidence of PPO-resistance in these two weed species.   In many cases a farmer/applicator was stuck in between a rock and a hard place when deciding when to apply dicamba under restrictive conditions and a rapidly growing weed.   The addition of glufosinate offers a bit more flexibility and can allow a farmer to make an effective postemergence application of glufosinate if environmental conditions or surrounding crops do not allow for a timely application of dicamba.   It must be said, though, that glufosinate is very capable of drifting the same as any other herbicide and thus if the wind is blowing at high speeds towards a sensitive crop no herbicide application, glufosinate, dicamba, or other should be applied.

As has been the message from University of Kentucky Weed Science in the past, the specific dicamba formulation one wants to apply and/or when to apply glufosinate matters less than the residual herbicide applied.   Anybody choosing to raise RR2Xtendflex soybean who is dealing with Palmer amaranth or waterhemp must remain vigilant and apply robust preemergence herbicides.  Research supported by the Kentucky Soybean Board has shown that even with the flexibility of the RR2XtendFlex soybean platform the use of a residual herbicide with 2 to 3 effective sites of action is more influential on end of season waterhemp and Palmer control than the choice or sequence of postemergence herbicides.   This message applies to all herbicide tolerant soybean systems, and will continue to be the message for these two troublesome weeds.

Up to the recent two approvals of RR2XtendFlex soybean and Xtendimax, Engenia, and Tavium there was a lot of unknowns in weed control going into 2021.  These recent approvals have brought a lot clarification to what farmers will have available for weed control in 2021 and their options are now fairly large which is great for soybean farmers.

AGR-256, Identification of Palmer Amaranth, Waterhemp, and Other Pigweed Species: http://www2.ca.uky.edu/agcomm/pubs/AGR/AGR256/AGR256.pdf

Author: Travis Legleiter, Plant and Soil Sciences

Create a Winter Container Garden

The holidays are literally right around the corner! Have you gotten all your decorating done? You may have answered yes to that question, but have you thought about the outdoor decorations? Have you ever heard of a winter container garden? Yes! You can create a container garden in the winter time. To find out just how to create a winter container garden, stay with me on the Sunshine Gardening Podcast for my secrets on creating a gorgeous winter container garden for this holiday season! 

Remember that pretty container filled with annual flowers that was used all summer and maybe even to fall if you weren’t too tired? Well, the same container can be re-worked and situated in your home’s entryway to welcome close family and friends in for the holidays!

To begin creating a winter container garden, use a hard plastic or wood container that can withstand the harsh winter elements filled with potting soil mix. Make sure the potting soil is a little below the top rim of the container. If not, add more potting soil or use newspaper to bring it closer to the top.

Next, collect clippings from different landscape trees and shrubs growing around your home or neighborhood. Examples of greenery might include southern magnolia, white pine, Eastern red cedar, holly, heavenly bamboo, spruce, boxwood, and Eastern hemlock. Cut varying lengths of greenery when gathering samples. The thought is to use the longer pieces to “spill” out of the arrangement and the shorter pieces to “fill” in around the spiller plants.

Kentucky’s landscape is filled with different varieties of evergreen trees and shrubs that can be cut and used as fresh greenery in a number of holiday decorations for the home! Take a look around your yard to see what greens are available in your neighborhood.

  • White Pine, scientifically known as Pinus strobus, offers a blue green color to arrangements and provides a nice fragrance when situated in the home. Not to mention, it has excellent needle retention.
  • Another readily available greenery item is Eastern Redcedar, Juniperus virginiana, which possesses fleshy blue berries for good color and smells wonderful when brought indoors.
  • Southern Magnolia, Magnolia grandiflora, a favorite among Southerners has glossy, dark green leaves with velvety, brown undersides that give an interesting contrast when placed against other leaf textures.
  • Holly is another traditional holiday green that adds interest depending on the variety that is being used. Some leaves give a blue color while other holly varieties can be variegated. If looking for berries, make sure to collect from the female plant.
  • Eastern Hemlock, Tsuga Canadensis, is one of my favorites to use around the holidays for decorating. This evergreen gives a lacey effect to fresh arrangements. The leaves are flat and the undersides have more of a white appearance on the undersides. At the ends, find small pinecones that look like little ornaments attached.
  • Other types of greenery such as Colorado Blue Spruce, and Boxwood are acceptable, too.

Things to know before cutting. Make sure to use clean, sharp cutters and cut at an angle for better transport of water and nutrients. Before cutting greenery from trees in the landscape, carefully consider which branches need to be cut. It is best to distribute cuts evenly throughout the tree or shrub to preserve its natural form.

The tips to know to ensure freshness! After cutting the greenery, immerse stems into a bucket filled with water and soak it overnight to maximize moisture. An optional step would be to allow the greenery to dry and then spray it with an anti-transpirant such as Wilt-pruf to help seal in additional moisture. However if you are using blue spruce, juniper berries, or cedar avoid using anti-transpirants, since this product can damage the wax coating that gives the plants their unique color.  

Now comes for the fun part—creating the winter container garden! Here are some items that you will need before you begin the process.

Gather up a round tomato cage and turn it upside down where the wire stakes are pointed up. The round part of the tomato cage should be positioned on the bottom with the 4 prongs facing upward to look similar to a Christmas tree. This piece will serve as the thriller in this arrangement and also give the container some height.

For some added cheer, attach Christmas lights to the tomato cage using floral wire. Use a spiral pattern when adding the lights to the tomato cage, or if you prefer more lights, place strands on each wire of the tomato cage. Don’t forget to place the plug-in towards the back of the container and next to a plug-in.

After getting the lights attached, put a block of green floral foam in a sink filled with room temperature water. The floral foam will support the greenery in place and keep it fresh by holding in moisture. Avoid forcing it down in the water where air bubbles form and allow the water to slowly soak into the block like a sponge and sink to the bottom. Floral foam can be purchased at most big box stores or at your favorite craft and floral supply store.

Place the block of wet floral foam in the middle of the container, and put the round base of the tomato cage over the foam. Next, take a roll of clear tape and secure the sides of the cage and floral foam to the container to keep it from falling over.

Cut stems of greenery at an angle and insert them into the wet floral foam. Start on the sides, then the front, and back of the arrangement, so the greenery appears as if it is cascading over the sides of the container. Add smaller pieces of greenery to fill in around the spiller until the foam is no longer visible.

After the greens are placed, for the finishing touch, incorporate natural elements like red berries, magnolia pods, or pine cones for a creative personal touch. Place your arrangement near the entrance of your home and watch how it glows with glamour from top to bottom! Guests will enjoy viewing these fresh arrangements around the holidays, and you will appreciate it more, knowing that you created it yourself using natural materials from around Kentucky’s landscape!

I hope that you enjoyed this episode of the Sunshine Gardening Podcast! For more information about today’s show, make sure to see the show notes on the blog at Warren County Agriculture, https://warrencountyagriculture.com/

To stay up to date on all the latest episodes, make sure to hit the subscribe button wherever you get your podcasts. By hitting the subscribe button, you will be notified of future shows where gardening tips and tricks will be shared to help gardeners reach their gardening goals and to help the sun shine a little brighter over your Kentucky garden.