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Scout and identify weeds in Ont. fields

Scout and identify weeds in Ont. fields

A warm April has given a head start to spring annuals; an agronomist can help identify and address them accurately 

By Jackie Clark
Staff Writer
Farms.com

Farmers and agronomists across Ontario are out walking wheat fields to identify weed issues to address in the coming weeks.

Proper identification is always key to making informed control decisions, Emma Epp told Farm.com. She's an agronomist and is taking over a dealership for Pioneer Seeds. 

When it comes to weeds “we don’t necessarily have to spray them just because they’re there,” Epp said.

“I’ve been getting a lot of calls about winter annuals, those are out in full force right now, you can see them from the road,” she explained. But winter annuals “are not really a concern at this time just because they are at the end of their life cycle. Most of them are flowering right now so even if we sprayed them, we’re not really going to do anything.”

Spring annuals, however, “are emerging much quicker than normal, because we’re having such a nice spring,” she added. “I’ve already seen lambsquarters, common ragweed, knotweed, and giant ragweed. (Those) would be the four main ones I’ve seen so far.”

Fleabane, of course, is a continuous problem in many parts of Ontario. Populations of fleabane in Ontario are resistant to glyphosate, cloransulam, or both, as well as paraquat. The weed can be very small, so “you need to make sure you’re actually out and walking for it, not just drive-by scouting,” Epp explained.

“If any of those are in the field, that’s when I would suggest a spray,” she said.

“We’re just at elongation here in Essex County for the wheat crop, so we still have lots of time to spray, but our window could get shortened pretty quickly if it does continue to be nice out,” she added.

Bluegrass is another weed species “that has become more prevalent in the past few years, especially in heavy clay ground, ground that has poor fertility, or poor drainage,” Epp said. “Bluegrass seems to spread very quickly, especially if you’re working your ground, so we need to make sure were doing fall sprays and spraying in the spring as well.”

In general, glancing over fields from the sprayer is not careful enough scouting to spot all weed issues.  

“Make sure you’re walking, take pictures if you don’t know what you’re finding, make sure to send them to your local agronomist,” Epp said. “Weed identification is important because there are a lot of look-alikes out there, so we want to make sure that we’re actually addressing the right weed and the right problem.”

Farmers should also be sure to note the temperature when spraying, she added. “There are some temperature restrictions on some herbicides. If we do get colder weather, just make sure that you’re following the label.”

Click here to visit Farms.com’s weed management resource.

Emma Epp photo


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