Rice Weed Control 101

Salvage Clean Up In Rice

Andy Kendig, State Extension Weed Specialist

Printed/Posted with permission of Mid America Farmer Grower

The first two years I did weed research in rice everything worked great. I thought salvage treatments were for bad farmers. Then, the school of hard knocks began affecting our research plots. Once when grass was nearing the 3 leaf stage it rained, kept us from spraying for a few days and the grass got a bit too big. Next, it was real dry at preflood time and the weeds were stressed and weren't controlled. Another time, cool temperatures delayed flood up and grass again got a bit too big between our planned applications. I am now much more humble and warn folks how rice is complicated and how important it is to do things as timely as possible. But until we get crystal balls and can control the weather- good farmers will be putting salvage-type treatments on rice somewhere.

Currently there are three commonly used salvage treatments. These are Whip, Ordram granules, and Facet mixtures with Arrosolo or Stam.

Whip is an extremely complex herbicide. It's got the same general chemistry of Fusilade and Assure which are herbicides which kill grasses including rice. When used according to the label, Whip is safe to rice, but the safety margin is thin. Used improperly Whip is also capable of causing severe rice damage. A common joke- based upon reality- is that some farmers swear BY Whip and others swear AT Whip. Carefully read the label before using Whip. It contains a long list of what are affectionately called the "Don'ts." The safety window is narrow.

On the other hand, every year we make Whip applications in our research program and observe excellent grass control and no injury. Many farmers routinely do the same. Whip is a very good barnyardgrass herbicide. It is also good on sprangletop- a weed that tends to escape other herbicides and seems to be increasing as a problem. Research in Arkansas has shown that half of the labeled rate of will control sprangletop with added crop safety. Whip is a good herbicide for getting large escaped grass- just be sure to CLOSELY follow the label. A sidelight for the future is that a new version of Whip named RiceStar will be available soon with greatly improved crop safety. RiceStar will allow application to 2 leaf rice and could actually become part of a pre-planned weed control program.

Ordram has been around for a number of years as THE official salvage treatment. Check the label for exact rates and variety restrictions- but it's not uncommon to fly 30 lbs/A of Ordram granules to control large escaped barnyardgrass. The activity is very slow; however, there are instances where this suppression is needed.

A full rate of Facet plus a full rate of Stam (into the floodwater) had become a new unofficial recommendation for salvage barnyardgrass control. There have been occasions where we've seen this fail; however, generally it does a very good job. This might be a good time for an Arrosolo application as you could get additional activity out of the Ordram in the Arrosolo.

Again, growers should avoid salvage applications if at all possible. A cheap weed control program that results in a salvage treatment usually costs more than an "expensive," properly executed weed control program. Farming is a form of gambling and mother nature never runs out of trump cards. Salvage weed control options for rice are available- even if they aren't desirable.

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