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Dealing with a Rut

University of Minnesota Extension, Stearns County News         

April 1, 2020                                                                                                 


Source:                       Nathan Drewitz, Extension Educator-Crops

University of Minnesota Extension

Stearns, Benton & Morrison Counties


Dealing with a Rut

By Nathan Drewitz, University of Minnesota Extension

FOLEY, Minn. (04/01/2020) - I find it hard to believe that we are only about a month away from the 2020 growing season. I think part of that disbelief stems from seeing pictures and videos of combines still running in fields across the country. However, the grass is starting to green up and soon planting will be upon us. This also means we will soon have to deal with the problems from last year that will carry over into this planting season. The weather seems to be stuck in a rut and this season could be very similar to what we have seen in years past. This rut has caused issues with weed control, ruts in fields, and in limited cases fields not being planted. While all three of these things are going to be important this year, I am going to focus on the weed management portion.

I am sure I sound like a broken record, but the importance of starting the planting season with weed free fields cannot be understated. Starting clean requires that we focus on early season weed control. That begins by checking your weed management plan to make sure that you are including the appropriate residual herbicides for the weed species problems in each field. Residual herbicides that are effective against the specific weed species that are present will help prevent those weeds from emerging over a period of time. Make sure that your residual herbicides are going to control the weed species that have been present in previous years, and remember that each field is not the same. There may be differences in weed species composition from field to field and the herbicides used should reflect those differences.

Timeliness of application is also of concern for these early season applications. Given the rainfall timing during last year’s planting season, many applications were applied late. If we see a similar situation this year, include a post emergence herbicide in the tank with your residual herbicides. That post herbicide needs to be capable of controlling any weeds that may have emerged. Make sure to check all labels before application to ensure proper use of the herbicide. Also keep in mind that many residual herbicides need to be applied prior to crop emergence. Check the label prior to application as that weed management programs may need to be adjusted if crops are starting to emerge. Finally, although it is tempting to scrap the early pass and hold off for a single pass. Remember that applications need to be made prior to weeds reaching 4 inches as once they are taller they become harder to control.

Since there are a lot of other topics that could be discussed as it relates to crop and pest management this year. There is a series of webinars starting April 6th and running until April 10th on “Essential Row Crop Management for Planting 2020”. These are put together with Extension Specialists from Minnesota and Iowa. They will start at 1pm with a 10 to 15 minutes discussion followed by time for questions and answers. All webinars will be limited to 30 minutes to help accommodate those working on getting into fields. These webinars are free and open to everyone. For more information about the series and to register, go to:, or contact me at (320) 968-5077. Topics and presenters are listed below:

April 6: “Top 3 tips for cover crop termination” with Meaghan Anderson, Extension Field Agronomist, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach

April 7: “Grain storage management for spring” with Shawn Shouse, Extension Ag Engineer, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach

April 8: “Management of fertilizer spread patterns” with Ryan Bergman, Program Coordinator, and Matt Darr, Professor, ISU Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

April 9: “Pre-emergence herbicide programs” with Lisa Behnken, Extension Educator, Crops, University of Minnesota.

April 10: “Tillage options this spring” with Jodi DeJong-Hughes, Extension Educator, Water Resources, University of Minnesota