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Managing green foxtail

Managing green foxtail

Proper identification is the first step in a good weed control program

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Green foxtail is among the common weeds Canadian farmers may need to control in corn, soybean, wheat and other crop fields.

But before a producer can develop a management plan, he or she should ensure the weed is in fact green foxtail.

This weed, which can produce about 34,000 seeds per plant, can look similar to yellow foxtail and giant foxtail. But green foxtail has some characteristics which set it apart from the others.

“Green foxtail is somewhat easy to identify because it has a hairy ligule,” Rob Miller told “If you pull back that leaf a little bit and it has hairs on it, that’s one indication it could be green foxtail.”

Miller is a technical development manager with BASF Canada stationed at the London, Ont. research farm.

Miller outlined two additional ways to tell if a weed is green foxtail.

“The leaf blade, the top and bottom, don’t have hairs,” he said. “And when it’s a mature plant you should look at the seed head.”

On green foxtail, the seed head will have a slight bend to it. Giant foxtail heads droop while yellow foxtail seed heads stay upright.

Producers have different tools available to help control this weed.

“We look at cultural, biological and chemical practices,” he said.

A cultural practice would be items like crop rotation and row width. Making changes to those parts of the operation could help control green foxtail, Miller said.

Biological control measures include crop canopy and cover crops.

“If you have a nice thick stand, generally speaking you don’t get a lot of green foxtail,” he said. “If you have a field of winter wheat with a thick canopy, you tend to see green foxtail in those fields after the crop has come off because there’s no competition there.”

When deciding on using herbicides, choose ones that can work well together, Miller said.

“You want to use soil-applied residual herbicides in conjunction with post-emerge herbicides as well in case you do get any escape,” he said.

More information on green foxtail and other weeds, pests and diseases can be found on the Field Guide.

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