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Burndown Alternatives to Glyphosate

Steve Doench, Technical Sales Agronomist, CCA SSp
Steve Doench, CCA SSp, Technical Sales Agronomist,

Facing supply shortages and exponentially higher glyphosate prices in 2022, finding alternatives for spring burndown applications is becoming relevant. For no-till farms, effective burndown applications are key to a good start to the season.

Prior to this season, a spring burndown using glyphosate alone or part of a tank mix was a preferred solution to controlling weeds ahead of planting.  In this article, we will explore some herbicide alternatives to glyphosate for burndown applications along with the best adjuvant pairings for optimal performance.

General comments

  • The proper use of adjuvants can be very valuable in maximizing weed control in burndown applications.
  • Use multiple modes of action to control as many weeds as possible in the absence of a non-selective herbicide.
  • Glyphosate used in burndown applications is especially effective for grass control, so adding a grass control herbicide is important when not using glyphosate.
  • Burndown ahead of corn has more herbicide choices compared to soybeans.
  • Always read and follow label instructions, including planting intervals ahead of application.

Broadleaf Control

2,4-D and dicamba are primary alternatives to glyphosate to target broadleaf weeds ahead of planting.  Adding a contact herbicide like paraquat can boost control of marestail and tends to work better when applied early or late in the day.  Ahead of planting corn, atrazine can also be added to the mix to control broadleaf weeds, and metribuzin can be applied ahead of soybeans.  Saflufenacil can also be used in conjunction with 2,4-D to help control early-season broadleaf weeds.  There are other combinations available, but in general 2,4-D with the addition of another broadleaf-control herbicide can be used in place of glyphosate for control of early-season broadleaf weeds ahead of planting as a burndown application.

Prickly lettuce T can cause challenges for burndown without glyphosate

Grass Control

Spring burndown applications are typically focused on the control of winter annual and cool-season perennial broadleaf weeds.  Early emerged grasses in areas further south are also of interest for burndown.  Clethodim or paraquat are good alternatives to glyphosate for grass control.

Adjuvant Guidelines

Adjuvant recommendation can vary broadly based on your local circumstances, including crop selection, weather, other tank-mix partners, etc. Pesticides often have an adjuvant recommendation on their label that can include a water conditioner, activator adjuvant, surfactant, drift and/or deposition aid. Stickers can be used to make sure that the spray stays put during rains, and compatibility agents can help difficult tank-mix partners work together.

Based on all those factors, it is best to talk with your local distributor or retailer about what is best for your personal circumstances to optimize your active ingredients’ effectiveness.

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