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Saturday, July 2, 2016

Farmer Q & A: How Has Weed Control Evolved in Farming?

At the end of June and around the first of July, farmers are ready to let Mother Nature take over their crops.   It's time to sit back and watch them grow.  As you drive around our great country this weekend, you should be treated to tall rows of corn and rows of beans beginning to close the gap between themselves.  Every once in a while, however, you will come across a weedy field of beans and wonder how that can be when most of the bean field are clean, pristine, even, acres of uniform green.  It's all about treating your weeds.

Once upon a time, in a world far far away, farm children would walk out by a barn or shed or truck and see this tool........

......the tool that could make even the best kid moan and groan a bit inside his or her mind.  Do you know what this is?  I would love for you to leave me a message at the end of this post telling me just how and when you used it.

It kind of looks like something Miss Bo Peep might use on her miniature goats right?  Yeah, no such luck!  It is called a "Hook," but its function is not quite that whimsical...  It was/is carried down bean rows and used to "hook" large weeds out of the bean rows. Here's a picture of how it works.

Back in the late 60's and early 70's, my brother and I would find several of those tools hanging around our grandparents' barn lot, and when we saw a couple make their way to the bed of Grandpa's truck, we knew what that meant.  "Time to weed the beans!"  Now Grandpa Bill felt it a personal affront to his ability to farm if a weed dare show itself in his bean field.  He didn't care if it was just one lousy weed at the OTHER end of the field; if he saw it, it had to go, and we had to take our hooks out to get it.  It earned us a bit of money and a nice tan, so we didn't grump too much, but Grandpa was a bit OCD when it came to weeds, and most farmers still are!

In today's world as fences disappear and farms grow larger in size, weed management has changed its ways.  Today there are many tools farmers can use to manage the weeds trying to grow in our fields. From tillage practices like no-till to treated seeds to prescription weed sprays, we are able to keep weed populations down without having to spend extra time in the field.  Some farmers plant in 15 inch rows or drill beans so that exposed ground is limited to open time in the sun, and emergent weeds are choked out by growing bean plants.

Farmers are always looking for better environmental and economical ways to keep weed populations down in our fields.  It is important to find a way to stop weed growth, promote crop plant growth, and still be good stewards of the land.


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