ISSUE #437

437 - Weed Control Critical to Profitability


Weed control was again named as the most serious production problem limiting sugarbeet crop profitability in 2002. American Crystal Sugar Company shareholders have named weeds the worst production problem 21 of the past 25 years. Model farm data analysis indicates losses from weed competition were over $23 million dollars in 2001, table 1.

Table 1: Economic Impact of Weed Control*

Grower Weed Control Rating% of Acres$$ Loss Per AcreRRV Revenue Lost
Poor 4 $160 $3,200,000
Fair 24 $80 $9,600,000
Good 54 $40 $10,800,000
Excellent 18 0 -0-
Total Valley Wide Revenue Loss $23,600,000

* NDSU Survey Data Courtesy Dr. Dexter

Pigweed species were identified as the most serious weed challenge in 2002. At least 5 species of Amaranth (pigweeds) have been identified in the Red River Valley. In 2002 only 8% of shareholders reported excellent weed control with no yield loss to weeds. Sixty-one percent rated weed control good with only about a $40/acre yield loss. Weed control was rated fair on 17% of fields with about $80 per acre loss to weed competition. Weed control was poor on 8% of all fields with losses of up to $160 per acre.

Effective Weed Control Steps:

  • Effectively kill weeds with preplant tillage
  • Proper sprayer calibration
  • I.D. weed seedlings in the cotyledon stage
  • Use preemerge Roundup at usually 1 quart/acre
  • Select the correct herbicides and rates needed
  • Cultivate and rotary hoe effectively
  • Use layby herbicides

Strategies for Successful Microrate Use:

  • Always include Betanex, Betamix or Progress
  • Always use Upbeet
  • Always use MSO or a basic blend adjuvant
  • Always use Stinger
  • Use a grass herbicide as necessary
  • Start applications 14-21 days after planting
  • Always use 3 applications, 4 if needed
  • Increase rates of Betanex, Betamix or Progress as beet size increases.
Beet SizeBetanex or Betamix RateProgress Rate
Cotyledon to 4 Leaf 8 oz. 5.7 oz.
4-Leaf and Larger 8-12 oz. 8.6 oz.

Weed Control Cost Savings:

Banding postemergence herbicide applications can save $10, $20, $30, $40 per acre or more compared to broadcast applications.

Conventional Herbicide Use Tips:

  • Use on tough to control weeds like kochia.
  • Use for weeds that are too large for effective microrate use.
  • Remember┬áto reduce conventional herbicide rates if applied on fields receiving soil applied Dual or ethofumesate (Nortron, Etho SC, Ethotron).
  • See page 31 of 2003 Sugarbeet Production Guide for rate adjustment guidelines.
  • Conventional rates must be applied starting in late afternoon or evening to avoid beet injury.
  • Grass control with conventional herbicide rate tank mixes is often less effective because adjuvants can't be used.
  • Best grass weed control may be achieved with a separate Select, Assure or Poast application.
  • Use no adjuvants with conventional rates.

Proper Pesticide Use Mandated:

Annual and 5-year agreements signed by all shareholders require only EPA registered pesticides be used.

No Guarantee:

Use of soil applied herbicides is no guarantee fewer postemergence herbicide applications will be required. Be prepared to apply up to 4 microrates or more.

Consequences of Illegal Pesticide Use Could Include:

  1. Loss of ability to deliver sugarbeets
  2. Confiscation of shares
  3. Fines by respective state departments of ag
  4. Fines levied by EPA
  5. Custom applicator penalties