Late herbicide: Is it worth it?

July 6, 2017 - Issue 15

Too windy. Too wet. Sometimes both. This pushed back a lot of weed management and some fields are still not sprayed. In this situation, intense weed pressure can reduce yields by 20%, 30%, 50%… That’s why early weed control has a huge positive effect on profitability, but late control is better than nothing. Late control can stop the yield loss, stop weeds from contributing substantially to the weed seed bank, and improve crop harvestability.

The spray windows

Glyphosate on Roundup Ready: Seeding to 6-leaf stage
Liberty on Liberty Link: Emergence to early bolting. To judge early bolting: If you can look in the centre of the plant at the main growing point and see buds forming, it is too late.
Ares on Clearfield: 2- to 7-leaf stage
Odyssey Ultra on Clearfield: 2- to 6-leaf stage

What happens if you spray past this window?

Going off label is generally a bad idea for crop safety (which can reduce yields) and for potential pesticide residues in harvested seed.

Glyphosate on Roundup Ready: Canola has to metabolize the herbicide so it doesn’t damage the plant. At bud stages and after, the plant is pumping all its energy into the floral region, which means glyphosate will translocate there as well. Either the plant can’t metabolize glyphosate in these regions fast enough to stop it from harming yield, or the two genes that metabolize glyphosate are not strongly expressed at these stages. For whichever reason, the yield loss can start at a few bushels per acre and kick in fairly soon after the window closes.
Liberty on Liberty Link: Canola plants that receive an application of glufosinate after the six leaf stage could be shorter because more energy is required to metabolize the herbicide. Reductions in yield can also occur because of the energy trade off of metabolizing a late application and, potentially, because of lower expression of an enzyme responsible for metabolizing glufosinate in the floral regions.
Imazamox (one active in Odyssey Ultra and Ares) on Clearfield: A Western Canada study by Tozzi et al, IMI resistant canola did not show significant yield loss when imazamox was applied late. Unlike the previous two herbicide systems IMI-resistant canola map possess sufficient gene expression in the floral regions to allow rapid metabolism of a late application. Despite the lack of yield loss, because growers are limited to one herbicide pass in the Clearfield system and herbicide should be applied earlier to avoid massive losses from weed competition.

If considering a late application because of severe weed competition, please contact your seed rep. Consider potential residues as well as crop safety. Pre-harvest intervals are 60 days for Liberty and Odyssey. Use the tool at and read more at

Other considerations:

Max rate. With late herbicide applications, weeds are also quite a bit larger. The temptation may be to attack them with higher rates, but in-crop herbicides have rate restrictions for crop safety and residue reasons. Maximum use rates for glyphosate on RR canola are 270 grams of acid equivalant (ae) per acre on one application or two applications of 180 g ae/ac each. Maximum rate per season for Liberty is 2.97 litres per acre, so splits could look like this: 1.35L/ac + 1.35L/ac; 1.62L/ac + 1.35L/ac; or 1.35L/ac + 1.62L/ac.

Spraying temperature. Temperatures above 28°C can reduce performance of Clearfield products. Temperatures above 30°C can reduce glyphosate performance. For Liberty, the hotter the better.

Further reading:

Late weed spray costs in more ways than one
Weed control strategies for each HT system

Canola Watch