By Randall Mallette, County Agent
Weed control is one of the most important considerations in the home garden. Weeds compete with desirable plants for space, nutrients, and light. When weeds become established, yields are decreased, and insect pests become more abundant. Additionally, if weeds go to seed, you are allowing the weed to spread and causing more headache for yourself in the future. For example, a single mature pigweed plant is capable of producing up to 600,000 seeds. For this reason, weeds require immediate action.
There are many methods that are used to control weeds. Many times, daily hoeing keeps them under control without the use of chemicals. Cultivation with a tiller is also commonly used. The problem posed by mechanical removal is that many broadleaf weeds and grasses simply form new plants from the pieces that are chopped up, exacerbating the existing problem.
Chemical control has may advantages over mechanical control. It is less time consuming to spray rather than hoe or till, and spraying is much less labor intensive than mechanical removal. However, the use of chemical controls requires careful timing, correct mixing, and accurate application. When using herbicides, you must be sure that the weeds are the only thing being affected by the herbicide. Products containing glyphosate will affect desirable plants as well as weeds. Grass killers such as sethoxydim will only kill grasses, so it should not be used on corn. Additionally, there are pre-harvest intervals with every spray that must be followed.
The ideal situation is to not have weeds growing in the garden at all. If there are no weeds, there’s no need for mechanical removal or chemical treatment. Using a pre-emerge in the garden cuts back on the weed-related workload. These products keep weed seeds from germinating. One of the commonly available pre-emerge products is Preen. When using pre-emerge products in the garden, you must read the label to determine how to apply and incorporate it, and what crops it may be used on. Some crops must be transplanted, while others may be able to grow through the pre-emerge from seed.
For more information contact Randall Mallette, County Agent, at the local LSU AgCenter Extension Office 318-357-2224. You can also visit us at 624 Second St, Natchitoches.