2023 Season-Long Weed Control Tips

How To Obtain A Maximum Return On Your Cotton Investment


Adam Hixson, technical service representative for BASF, recently went through his list of recommendations for controlling weeds in cotton this year and beyond. The following breakdown details these recommendations from pre-plant to post-harvest:


“Every year is different,” Hixson said. “For us, out in West Texas, it has started off really dry, and I’m really concerned that a lot of these acres didn’t get any sort of pre-herbicide down.”

He said there is only one growing point of a weed to control when putting out a residual herbicide, whereas a post-emergence herbicide would be dealing with double digit growing points with something like a four-inch pigweed out in the field.

“With a residual herbicide, you have to control one growing point; that’s a lot easier to do than controlling 15 to 20 growing points.”


He noted the importance of those residuals that he is currently seeing a lack of and said getting a good residual in the ground pre-plant is his No. 1 piece of advice to start the season off on the right foot.

“A residual herbicide at planting is absolutely crucial to success. I put that as No. 1 and No. 2 on my priority list of how to make sure you’re having good success with weed control,” Hixson said.

He said he understands the cost factor and that growers are spending a lot on seed that have herbicide and insecticide traits. “You’re spending a lot of money there, so why not spend a few dollars to protect it and make sure you get it off to a good start.”

Hixson said those first 40 days of a cotton crop’s life revolves around protecting it from the competition of weeds and other barriers to its growth so getting that good start is essential.

Post-Emergence And During Season

Hixson said the use of the at-plant residual herbicide sets producers up for success with their in-season post-emergence herbicide applications.

“You know you’re going to have to come back,” he said. “When you have that residual herbicide down at planting, it thins the herd so there are not as many weeds out there and when you’re making that post-emergence application, all those weeds are the same height.”

He said beginning four to six weeks after planting, it is likely growers will be making their Liberty or Engenia application for any weeds that emerged after that initial residual herbicide begins to fade away. An in-season residual application of something like Outlook or Zidua then extends the season-long weed control and helps the post applications become more effective, according to Hixson. Hixson said Zidua is very effective on Palmer amaranth and that they have been working recently to coat it on dry fertilizer to enable both weed control and fertility simultaneously.

He recommends this residual herbicide during the season as most cotton is planted on 30-inch to 40-inch rows where it would take a while to build up a good canopy.

Hixson emphasized the role of the cheapest and best herbicide you can ever get: shade. He said getting a good canopy where able will do the crop wonders for weed control. “My favorite and cheapest herbicide is shade. It’s free. Mother Nature provides that when you have a good cotton canopy and good growing conditions.”


Hixson said many like to equate harvest time to more of an art than a science as producers are much more dependent on the conditions they are dealt.

“You just need to plan for two applications,” Hixson said as he noted one-application attempts not ending well most of the time.

The herbicide Sharpen is most effective when used as part of that two-step process in going across the field twice, he said. He recommends the first run through be with Sharpen and Ethephon, a boll opener. He said regions with more moisture may benefit from having Sharpen in their second harvest application since it is known to be good for any regrowth, or juvenile growth.


Hixson said post-harvest time is important to go ahead and start preparing for next season. Whether that involves Roundup, a dicamba product, Facet L, or even Sharpen to burn down those broadleaf weeds, there is a lot to be said for planning ahead.

“The best way to save money from a weed control perspective is to get those weeds before they come up,” he said. “I know that’s tough to think about when you’re looking at clean ground out there and thinking, ‘Why do I want to spend money on spraying just dirt?’ but trust me, the weeds are there and when the rains come, they will germinate.”

He said the overall investment in weed control, in the end, is minimal compared to the return that can come from it.

For more information, visit www.cottonweedcontrol.com or contact your local BASF representative.

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