Three tips for building a bulletproof herbicide program

Every day, farmers deal with variables out of their control, from weather to mechanical issues to weed pressure. In recent weeks, a new variable has affected many U.S. growers.

In early February, a U.S. District Court in Tucson, Arizona vacated the registrations for three dicamba herbicides – Xtendimax®, Tavium® and Engenia®. This meant that growers would not be able to use these herbicides for over-the-top applications.

Shortly after, the EPA issued an Existing Stocks order allowing growers and retailers to use the inventory of these herbicides already in the distribution channel.

“It’s challenging for people trying to build their herbicide programs right now,” says Wade Firestone, marketing manager with HELM Crop Solutions. “Between the current regulatory environment and industry-wide supply chain issues over the past few years, it can be difficult to plan for what you need to manage weeds.”


Learning how to navigate these situations is important to raising a successful crop. Here are three strategies for managing weeds in uncertain regulatory and supply environments.


1. Know your target

When it comes to herbicide programs, the goals are simple:

  • Eliminate existing weeds
  • Prevent future weeds from emerging

In most cases, multiple different herbicide programs can achieve these goals. By identifying your key target weeds, you can choose herbicides to specifically manage them.

“Growers must get familiar with the specific weed pressures in their fields and the timing of their emergence,” says Firestone. “What weeds give you the most trouble year in, year out? Build your program around those priorities.

Reviton is an effective herbicide for over fifty different species of broadleaves and grasses, including glyphosate-, ALS- and triazine-resistant species. Reviton has the ability to be an effective option for a large number of target weeds.


2. Take an agronomic approach to the problem

The weed pressure you face in the field determines your response. Below are agronomic best practices for managing weeds in an uncertain herbicide market.

Conduct a burndown 

Reducing early-season weed competition is crucial to preserving the yield potential of the crop.

“It is important to eliminate the initial crop of standing weeds and put down a residual to keep the next wave of weeds from breaking through,” says Firestone. “Start clean to stay clean.”

More herbicide options exist for pre-plant and pre-emergent use than over-the-top use, including Reviton, glyphosate, glufosinate and many others. One key consideration for selecting burndown products is the plant back interval. Be sure to select products that will not impede the pace of planting and getting the crop in the ground. Reviton offers quick plant back intervals at 0 days in corn and wheat, 0-7 days in soybeans and 7-14 days in cotton. Always consult the label for application instructions.

Use residuals

While your burndown pass takes care of standing weeds, it is also important to keep new weeds from sprouting. That's where residuals come in.

“Think of a burndown and a residual as a one-two punch for weed control. You need to knock weeds down and keep them down,” says Firestone.  

Depending on the herbicide, you can either put their residual out with their burndown or follow up with another pass. When possible, apply residuals at the point that will provide protection the furthest into the season.

Multiple modes of action

In many cases, the need for over-the-top dicamba applications results from herbicide-resistant weeds. To contend with herbicide-resistant weeds for this season, as well as to prevent them in the future, it is imperative to develop a herbicide program that includes multiple modes of action.

Adjuvant package

Adjuvants help growers to make the most of their herbicides. For example, Reviton works best when paired with a high-quality MSO. Whether it is through evenness of coverage, grip on the leaves, rainfastness, or other beneficial qualities, adjuvants can help to get optimal performance from your herbicide program.


3. Take a business approach to the problem

The needs in the field dictate the actions in the office. With supply and regulations making herbicide selection uncertain, it’s wise to create contingency plans so you can respond quickly to shifting market environments by changing herbicide programs.

Make multiple plans

Have three or four combinations of herbicides, active ingredients and brands that will work for your crop and weed pressure. Additionally, prepare alternative timings in case of odd weather (e.g. a wet spring causes a late burndown).

Prioritize which plans you prefer

Rank the herbicide programs by their level of appeal to you. That could be by price, efficacy, number of passes, etc. You will then have your Plan A, Plan B and Plan C.

Get it on the floor

“If your financial and storage situations allow, get the product on the floor,” says Firestone. “If you have your herbicides in-house, you can limit the effects that the supply chain can have on your season.”

Raising a crop is an increasingly complex business, requiring massive amounts of thought and consideration. Growers will continue to be tasked with changing industry dynamics. By knowing your target and preparing agronomic and business contingency plans, you can help hedge your bets against uncertainty in the marketplace.