Read time: 5 minutes

Options for crop topping canola

One downside of the widespread production of canola is the increase in clethodim resistant annual ryegrass populations on many farms across southern Australia.

What’s the best option for crop topping canola?

Nufarm’s weedmaster® DST® is the only glyphosate product registered for pre-harvest weed control in canola, providing another tool to reduce weed seed set.

Dr Chris Preston, University of Adelaide (UA) Associate Professor—Weed Management says growers are noticing that in some areas clethodim may be only suppressing rather than controlling ryegrass. “All tactics in the weed management program need to minimise seed set,” he says. “End of season control measures have been limited to narrow windrow burning in canola and this is not always a practical option for growers.”

Through a GRDC funded trial Dr Preston investigated the pre-harvest use of a number of herbicides, looking at efficacy, crop safety and residue levels. “Our trials concluded that only glyphosate was effective and safe to use for pre-harvest weed control in canola,” he says.

This research supported the registration of Nufarm’s weedmaster® DST® as the only glyphosate product registered for pre-harvest application in canola.

Dr Preston, who is also Chair of the Australian Glyphosate Sustainability Working Group says that, once again, glyphosate has proved to be a valuable chemical but a word of caution is required. “Pre-harvest weed control with glyphosate must not be over-used in the rotation. It is essential that many other non-glyphosate measures are also being used in a weed management strategy.”

“Keep track of how often you are applying glyphosate across the rotation and include as much diversity as possible,” he says. “For example, if you use glyphosate for pre-harvest control in canola it would be wise to use a different harvest weed seed control tactic in your cereal crop and consider paraquat as a better choice to crop top pulses.”

“Both over the top and under the windrow applications are equally effective as weed seed set control measures,” he says. “Efficacy is reduced in hot, dry weather conditions so an over the top crop topping application offers some extra flexibility provided growers have access to a self-propelled boom with sufficient clearance. In some situations this will make direct harvesting a more practical option too.”

For optimal ryegrass control and no impact on yield, wait until at least 20 per cent of the canola seed has changed to dark brown or black before a pre-harvest application of glyphosate in a standing crop.

A harvest weed seed operation, such as narrow windrow burning, will also assist to remove any survivors and help prolong the efficacy of glyphosate across the rotation.

Nufarm field development manager (broadacre) at Horsham, Mark Slatter says the expanded registration of weedmaster DST for harvest aid and weed control applies to triazine tolerant (TT), CLEARFIELD®, Roundup Ready® and conventional canola varieties. “Label rates for applications of weedmaster DST to standing canola or under the cutterbar at windrowing @ are 1.4 – 4.1L/ha, however Nufarm trials showed best results were achieved at rates of 2.8 – 4.1L/ha with an adjuvant (LI 700®) to increase penetration into the crop canopy and for drift management,” says Mr Slatter. “The recommended water rate for ground application is at least 80 L/ha applied to standing canola.”

The product is also registered for aerial application at a maximum rate 3.1L/ha.

Mr Slatter says the timing of the application is critical and must not occur before there has been a minimum of 20% grain colour change across the paddock as going in too early will cause yield reductions. “No withholding period applies when the product is applied under the windrow but direct harvest must not occur until five days after application to a standing crop,” he says.

While annual ryegrass is a key target weed for this use pattern, other key target weeds controlled include wild radish, sow thistle and many other annual grass and broadleaf weeds.

Mr Slatter says that Nufarm has developed this new pre-harvest registration as an additional tool for reducing weed seed set of annual weeds because a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to weed seed set is one way of reducing the risk of herbicide resistance developing. “It is very important to use a pre-harvest application of weedmaster DST as part of a broader integrated weed management (IWM) strategy to minimise the risk of glyphosate resistance,” he says.

“Crop safety trials proved that this use pattern has no negative effects on yield or oil content in canola, however it must not be used on crops intended for seed because germination and vigour is affected,” he says. “Nufarm’s extensive MRL trials also showed residues are well below maximum levels for all canola systems so there will be no impact on product export suitability.”

Related Articles

View all

WeedSmart agronomist set to tackle high rainfall zone weeds

Every locality has its own spectrum of weeds, and growers face different opportunities and challenges regarding the control tactics they can employ. The WeedSmart Big 6 approach is a practical way to ensure that an integrated weed management program is put in place that disrupts weed seed production and the evolution of herbicide resistance. Commencing in January 2021, Jana Dixon has joined the WeedSmart team of extension agronomists, with a focus on applying the Big 6 to manage weeds in the high rainfall cropping systems of southern Australia – from Esperance in WA to south-eastern SA, Tasmania and south-western Victoria. Jana will add to the dedicated and experienced extension agronomists on the WeedSmart team with Peter Newman in the Western region, Chris Davey in the South, Greg and Kirrily Condon in the East and Paul McIntosh in the North. Jana Dixon has joined the WeedSmart team of extension agronomists, with a focus on applying the Big 6 to manage weeds in the high rainfall cropping systems of southern Australia – from Esperance in WA to south-eastern SA, Tasmania and south-western Victoria. Jana hails from the Mid North of SA, and began working at Pinion Advisory (previously Rural Directions) while she was studying agriculture at the University of Adelaide. She has been employed full-time at Pinion Advisory since January 2019 as an agribusiness consultant, based in Clare, and spends most of her time delivering agronomy and farm business advice to clients from a wide range of cropping regions in South Australia. Pinion Advisory is a foundation WeedSmart sponsor and Jana has been involved in two WeedSmart Week events already – the first as a participant and grower group organiser at the Horsham event in 2019 and then as the local organiser for WeedSmart Week 2020 in Clare. In welcoming her to the WeedSmart team, program manager Lisa Mayer says Jana brings energy, commitment and insight to deliver communications focussed on the southern region’s high rainfall regions. “Growers in the southern high rainfall zones are facing some serious issues with herbicide resistance influencing their farming decisions,” says Ms Mayer. “Jana will be engaging with agronomists, growers and researchers in each of the distinct high rainfall zones to understand the complexities and look for practical ways to apply the WeedSmart Big 6 in various cropping scenarios.” “We plan to deliver WeedSmart Week in Esperance, part of Western Australia’s high rainfall cropping zone, in August 2021 and Jana will play a key role in the planning and delivering of our annual 3-day flagship event.” Jana says her experience with the WeedSmart program has been very positive and she has been particularly impressed with the support the program has from all sectors of the grains industry. Newly appointed WeedSmart extension agronomist, Jana Dixon (green cap) leading discussions with farm visit host, Ben Marshman, Owen SA, and growers and agronomists attending WeedSmart Week 2020 in Clare. “I have spoken to many growers and agronomists who have found real value in the information that the WeedSmart program delivers,” she says. “For many it is as much about considering another operator’s philosophy on dealing with weeds, and taking a fresh look at their own systems, rather than just learning about a new tactic or the traits of a new herbicide in isolation from the big picture.” She says the high calibre of industry people who contribute their time and expertise to the program is testament to the value WeedSmart has to agribusiness, growers, agronomists and researchers alike. In taking on the responsibility for delivering information tailored for the high rainfall zones Jana says she is pleased to have an extensive network of contacts through Pinion Advisory, with offices in a number of high rainfall areas to provide easy access to local agronomists and growers. She is also aware that there are major differences in weed spectrums and farming systems in each high rainfall zone and plans to take full advantage of the opportunity this role presents to expand her understanding of different approaches to weed management. “The long and favourable growing season and the associated prolonged periods of weed germination, is a key factor that I see potentially impacting on a grower’s weed management strategies in these regions,” she says. “On the other hand, access to highly diverse rotations and a focus on crop competition are two strategies that can play an important role in achieving excellent weed management in these regions.” “I am keen to engage with anyone working and farming in the high rainfall zones to build my knowledge and understanding,” she says. “And to create opportunities to develop and extend the WeedSmart Big 6 strategies, both herbicide and non-herbicide, that work in each area and in different situations.” WeedSmart is the industry voice delivering science-backed weed control solutions with support from the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), major herbicide, machinery and seed companies, and university and government research partners, all of whom have a stake in sustainable farming systems. You an follow Jana on Twitter and keep up to date with the HRZ here.

Never cut the herbicide application rate

Scientific studies have demonstrated that resistance can rapidly evolve in weeds subjected to low doses of herbicide. Some weeds can develop resistance within a few generations. Full rates when mixing herbicides too! When mixing herbicides it is important that each product is still applied at the full label rate to ensure high mortality. Applying different chemicals in one mix can provide an additive advantage. It is important to understand the mode of action of each herbicide on the plant when preparing a herbicide mix. This is just as important for pre-emergent grass weed mixes as it is for post-emergent mixes aimed at broadleaf weed control. ALWAYS READ THE LABEL. Surrounding weed seeds with a combination of pre-emergent herbicides with different modes of action can give a high level of control and help extend the useful life of all the chemicals used. The high level of control must be supported with additional control measures for all survivors. All products with different modes of action must be applied at full label rates for this to be an effective strategy.   Mixing two chemicals with the same mode of action can achieve some additional efficacy, however, the mix should deliver the combined full rate to ensure a lethal dose. The amount of stubble present and crop safety are all important considerations when mixing chemicals. For example, when using a tank mix of Avadex® and trifluralin to control ryegrass in wheat, the rates used will vary depending on the sowing system and level of stubble retention. Be sure to get good advice. Many herbicides on the market are a combination of two or more modes of action within the one product. These products must be applied at the full label rate to be effective. Having dual action does not negate the need to change herbicide products and rotate modes of action. Repeated use of any single strategy will reduce the effectiveness of that strategy over time.  

Spray well – correct nozzles, adjuvants and water rates

Spray application is a technical field and growers need to make sure their equipment and application techniques are spot-on. The GRDC Spray Application GrowNote provides detailed information and about 80 videos to demonstrate key skills. Prevent spray-drift The focus of spraying herbicide needs to be on doing the job right so the weeds receive the correct dose and die, and this includes reducing the air borne fraction to a bare minimum. Bill Gordon’s 10 Tips for Reducing Spray Drift Choose all products in the tank mix carefully. Understand the product mode of action and coverage requirements. Select (and check) the coarsest spray quality that will provide effective control. Expect that surface temperature inversions will form as sunset approaches and will likely persist overnight and even beyond sunrise on many occasions. DO NOT SPRAY. Use weather forecasts to inform your spray decisions. Only start spraying when the sun is about 20 degrees above the horizon and when the wind speed has been above 4–5 km/hr for more than 20–30 minutes, and clearly blowing away from any adjacent sensitive crops or areas. Set the boom height to achieve a double overlap of the spray patterns. Avoid higher spraying speeds. Leave buffers unsprayed if necessary and come back. Continue to monitor conditions, particularly wind speed, at the site during the spray operation High water rates don’t have to slow you down Some growers are concerned that increasing the water rate when applying herbicide will slow down their spray operation and cost them money. However, the biggest financial loss during spraying usually comes from a failed spray job. To keep your spray operation as time efficient as possible when using more effective and reliable application volumes, you can: Use nurse tanks around the farm to reduce the time spent travelling back to a central re-fill point. Use a larger pump, e.g. 2.5 inch, to make re-filling quicker. Pre-mix the batch while the sprayer is operating. Many mixes can be held in the mixing tank for up to 6 hours. However, wettable granules and suspension concentrates will need agitation to keep them in solution. For pre-emergent herbicides in high stubble situations, carrier volume has a large effect on the level of control achieved. Across four trial sites Dr Borger’s research demonstrated that ryegrass control with trifluralin or Sakura® increased from 53% control when the carrier volume was 30 L/ha to 78% control when the carrier volume was increased to 150 L water/ha in high Water quality and mixing order Water quality is often overlooked as a possible contributor to herbicide failure and can lead to confusion over the herbicide resistance status of weeds on a property. Water should be considered as one of the chemicals in any mix, given that water quality varies markedly depending on its source. Getting the mixing order right is essential for effective spray results. Don’t start mixing until the water quality is right Podcast – Mixing herbicides Adjuvants Sometimes adding an adjuvant is beneficial and sometimes it is detrimental; and there is an art to knowing how to best deploy these additives. When weeds are susceptible to the applied herbicides, the effectiveness of adjuvants generally goes un-noticed. Correctly applied adjuvants can reduce the impact of low level herbicide resistance by helping to maximise the amount of herbicide taken up by the plant.

Subscribe to the WeedSmart Newsletter