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Pre-emergence herbicides for wheat vital
Stacy Campbell
Stacy Campbell

Pre-emergence herbicides with residual activity are an important component of high-yielding cropping systems. They are used less frequently in wheat production compared to other cropping systems in Kansas, but residual herbicides applied prior to wheat emergence can be part of a good weed management system in wheat production. Due to space limitations the table with the selected products for this use are listed in the full article on our web site  Click onto the Crops and Livestock tab and look under Hot Topics.

Most residual herbicides labeled for pre-emergence application in wheat are Group 2 (ALS-inhibiting) herbicides, which are associated with herbicide resistant populations of kochia, marestail (horseweed), bushy wallflower, flixweed, henbit, and brome species in Kansas. Products in Groups 14 (the PPO-inhibiting herbicides) and 15 (the long-chain fatty acid inhibiting herbicides) are also labeled; however, they are generally more dependent on rainfall for activation than the Group 2 herbicides.

Herbicides without residual activity may be applied with or without residual herbicides in the weeks prior to planting wheat. Older products include the Group 2 herbicides Amber, Olympus, and Pre-Pare, as well as Group 4 (plant growth regulating) herbicides like 2,4-D, dicamba, or fluroxypyr (StareDown,). It is especially important to be aware of planting interval restrictions for Group 4 herbicides, which range from 10 to 45 days.

When selecting pre-emergence herbicides for use in wheat production, keep in mind that many of these products are also labeled for use in emerged wheat. Unless using a planned split-application, avoid repeated use of products from the same herbicide group to slow the development of herbicide-resistant weed populations in your fields.

Field bindweed control

Field bindweed is a particularly troublesome weed for which a special discussion is justified. In a 12-year experiment conducted at the Agricultural Research Center in Hays, field bindweed reduced wheat yield 2 to 50%. Management of this weed during wheat establishment is important because field bindweed continues to grow until temperatures drop below 20°F.

The herbicides most commonly recommended for field bindweed control include various formulations of 2,4-D, dicamba, and glyphosate. Dicamba tends to provide greater control for fall applications compared to 2,4-D or glyphosate, especially if plants are drought-stressed. Another commonly used product is Facet (quinclorac). It is most effective when applied just before the first killing frost. Other herbicides that are labeled for fall application to control or suppress field bindweed in wheat include Affinity, Aim, and Cimarron.

Satisfactory control of field bindweed will not be achieved with a single herbicide application. It will take multiple years of herbicide applications to deplete the energy stored in the root system and control an established infestation.

For additional information, see the “2021 Chemical Weed Control for Field Crops, Pastures, and Noncropland” guide available online at or check with your local K-State Research and Extension office for a paper copy.

The use of trade names is for clarity to readers and does not imply endorsement of a particular product, nor does exclusion imply non-approval. Always consult the herbicide label for the most current use requirements.

Stacy Campbell is an agriculture and natural resources agent for Cottonwood Extension District. Email him at scampbel@ksu.eduor call the Hays office, 785-628-9430.