Weeds and diseases can seriously impact crop yields. Protecting plants by using the inputs available can be the difference in obtaining optimum crop yield. With the increased use of precision agriculture methods and a shift in focus towards crop enhancement, crops are better able to withstand environmental stress factors.

We often think of weed control as a way to protect the crop, but it’s also a way to preserve the nutrients available to the plant, such as sunlight, water, and soil minerals. Wild oats has the ability to suck the life out of a field leaving nothing behind for the planted crop. Using herbicides that provide fast, effective weed control so there is less competition for the emerging plants is a critical step in providing better growing conditions.

Weeds usually emerge faster than the crop, taking the available nutrients that the crop needs to grow. Less competition from weeds means stronger, healthier crop roots and plants. Because the roots are out of sight they are often overlooked in their significance in plant health. According to Root Health – The Key to Improving Yield, it has been estimated that 80 percent of all plant problems start with soil/root problems. Less competition results in roots being able to access more water and nutrients leading to better crop development at the critical early stages. A healthy root system will produce stronger stems and leaves to support maximized yield.

As the plant grows through the season there are many aboveground diseases that can hinder the optimization of plant yield as well. Application of a fungicide at the flag-leaf stage will help protect cereal crops from leaf diseases that affect yield and grain quality. Since it is estimated that 55 percent of grain fill in wheat and up to 65 percent in barley are attributable to a healthy flag leaf, leaf and stem rust can severely decrease a crop’s potential. Fungicides bring growers another tool for preventing and controlling diseases to help boost yields and receive a higher return on their investment.

Weed and disease management in crops is seeing a shift from being reactive to proactive. Instead of reacting to a visible threat in the growing crop, the new proactive approach is to use the inputs in the early stages that will give the crop the ability to move past the threats and produce an optimum yield without being held back.