Chemical and cultural practices can manage the worst impacts of this weed, help contain its spread and, with PrecisionPac® herbicides, save the farmer time, hassle and money too.
Everyone knows that kochia is a challenging weed in Western Canada. It emerges in cool spring soils before crops are even planted. It produces seed prolifically and disperses it widely. Kochia shrugs off dry, hot and saline conditions and thrives when crops struggle. Meanwhile, herbicide resistance takes several useful chemistries out of the toolbox.
It’s a tough challenge, but fortunately, farmers still have several methods they can use to manage kochia. For a customized solution for kochia and much more, consider PrecisionPac® SZ-0050 herbicide from FMC Canada.
PrecisionPac® SZ-0050 herbicide, when mixed with glyphosate and applied pre-plant, provides a complete solution with multiple modes of action providing burnoff of a wide range of broadleaf weeds along with extended control of kochia (Group 2 and 9 resistant biotypes) in peas, soybeans and spring wheat (including durum). Broadleaf burnoff control includes narrow-leaved hawk’s-beard, volunteer canola, dandelions and more.
PrecisionPac® herbicides are all dispensed in easy-to-handle, premeasured bags. You get the exact amount of herbicide you need, down to the acre. This way, you don’t pay for herbicide you can’t use and there’s no hassle of storing partial jugs.
Research builds kochia knowledge and tools
Having studied kochia for years, Dr. Charles Geddes would be the last person to minimize the headaches associated with this weed.
Even so, the Lethbridge-based Weed Scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is inclined to see kochia as a glass-half-full situation. Despite the challenges, there’s still lots that growers can do. His research points the way.
Dr. Geddes and his team looked at managing kochia through the span of a four-year crop rotation – wheat, canola, wheat, lentils – integrated with cultural and chemical practices, in order to develop management strategies taking advantage of the biology and ecology of kochia.
The research team mapped out how to use available modes of action in combinations that would delay resistance pressure – using effective modes of action herbicides for the same weed species during pre-emergent, post-emergent, in-crop, pre-harvest or post-harvest applications, known as herbicide layering.
A well-chosen crop rotation helps keep kochia on the defensive, and fall-planted crops shouldn’t be overlooked.
Dr. Geddes has also looked at crop rotation diversity. In one experiment of a spring wheat, canola, spring wheat, lentils rotation, they swapped out spring wheat with winter wheat.
“We’re trying to promote a competitive crop rotation,” says Geddes, “because kochia tends to respond to crop competition. It responds by reducing the amount of seed the plant produces. Winter wheat can be competitive in the spring with kochia that’s just trying to emerge. Winter wheat is also harvested before kochia produces viable seed.”
Two means of increasing crop competitiveness were found to be effective in combatting kochia: narrower row spacing and increasing seeding rate. This is evidence that kochia backs down when the going gets tough.
“Decreasing row spacing showed a 60% decrease in kochia biomass in all crops,” says Geddes. “Adding in this cultural management is essentially like adding another herbicide to the tank.”
Seeding rates combined with herbicide management can help reduce the potential for resistance in kochia.
However, if only one farmer in a region is diligent about the above kochia management practices, their efforts are unlikely to see much payback. After all, kochia is a prolific seed producer and spreader. Kochia seed blowing in from less-attentive neighbours would prevent much improvement.
That’s why Charles Geddes would like to see more farmers working on this problem together.
“There’s a lot of opportunity for community-based strategies,” says Geddes. “For example, all farmers in a certain area could commit to manage kochia effectively for a few years in a row. Combined with chemical and cultural practices, this could make a big difference over time.”