One Step Ahead

Photo courtesy of Corteva Agriscience
Photo courtesy of Corteva Agriscience
Photo courtesy of Corteva Agriscience
Photo courtesy of Corteva Agriscience

Fall weed control applications can put lawn care operators ahead of the game come spring.

By Emily Schappacher

Spring is easily the most challenging time of year for many lawn care operators (LCOs). From full routes of eager clients to surprise reoccurrences of winter weather, LCOs need to be prepared for just about anything. Taking steps in the fall to get on top of spring weeds can alleviate some of the pressure that comes with the busiest time of year.

Photo: Corteva Agriscience; Yusif Jaouni
Yusif Jaouni

“The only thing we know about spring is that it’s going to be unpredictable,” said Yusif Jaouni, turf and ornamental territory manager for Corteva Agriscience. “Fall herbicide applications can free up time in the spring for LCOs to deal with challenges like weather and put some flexibility into their schedules.”

Jaouni says LCOs can break fall herbicide applications into two categories: preemergent and postemergent. He recommends applying preemergents at the end of the summer or the beginning of fall when soil temperatures being to drop to stop the germination of new winter annuals and perennials. Postemergent applications should then take place in mid- to late-fall to control any weeds that may have germinated.

“Pre- and postemergent applications are two halves of the same coin,” Jaouni said. “The preemergent is the shield and the postemergent is the sword.”

Jaouni stresses that timing is the most important factor when it comes to effective fall herbicide applications. For fall applications to offer the most control, herbicides need to be applied while the plant is translocating, or moving nutrients down into their root structures in order to survive the winter. If LCOs miss this window, the weeds may complete translocation and enter dormancy, and the product won’t reach the roots. Jaouni said improper timing is one of the biggest mistakes LCOs make when applying herbicides in the fall, as many LCOs find themselves making applications when it’s convenient for them or for the homeowner, instead of when it makes the most sense from an agronomic perspective.

“Especially with hard to control weeds like dandelion, thistle, ground ivy or wild violets, LCOs want the herbicide to tag along with the sugars and carbohydrates and move all the way through that plant to provide a complete kill,” Jaouni said. “If LCOs are too late in their application, they won’t have the control they would like.

“All LCOs are running a business,” he adds. “but it helps to think about operations from both a financial and an agronomic point of view.”

Photo courtesy of Corteva Agriscience
Photo courtesy of Corteva Agriscience

Jaouni suggests LCOs develop a weed control strategy and write it down in the form of a timeline. This helps them prepare a plan of attack and know what weeds they are dealing with in the future and when its best to take action. Next, they need to choose the most effective products. Dimension® specialty herbicide is a preemergent that provides superior control of grassy and broadleaf weeds. Crew specialty herbicide is another product that provides months of grassy and broadleaf preemergent control and reduces weed pressure into the next season. Each provide the broad window of application timing in turf and landscape beds giving LCOs the versatility and flexibility during the unpredictable spring season.

Defendor® and Turflon® Ester Ultra specialty herbicides provide postemergent control, and are particularly effective during fall’s cooler weather when other postemergent products don’t work as well.  Each can eliminate those anxiety weeds so by spring, those weeds aren’t something on their list to worry about when their schedules are busy and weather is uncertain.

“There is never a shortage of wild cards that can pop up in the spring,” Jaouni said. “Putting as much prework into fall applications will simplify things. Deciding to provide fall herbicide applications should be viewed as a proactive instead of reactive approach.”

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