Controlling weeds from the very start is important to give cane a clean head start but can carry some risk when rain is limited and infrequent. A new broad-spectrum herbicide is reducing that risk and giving growers flexibility in their weed control programs.
AmiTron (700g ai/kg amicarbazone) is a UV stable herbicide with both pre- and post-emergent activity against grasses, broadleaf weeds and some sedges. It has proven to be particularly effective on vine weeds.
NSW cane grower Tim McMahon tried AmiTron herbicide this year after hearing about it from Northern AgriServices agronomist Steve Leeson.
Based at Chatsworth Island NSW, Tim farms 1,100 acres of sugarcane in the Clarence Valley, producing approximately 30,000 tonnes of cane annually.
Tim uses a base of Balance (isoxaflutole) in his weed control program. On its own he gets escapes of barnyard grass, vines and a few other weeds, and for the last few years has added metribuzin to the mix with great results. However he still gets escape vines and always carries some risk given that metribuzin requires rainfall within seven days from application.
So when AmiTron herbicide was suggested he thought he’d give it a go.
“Results have been excellent and I don’t have to worry about getting that follow up rainfall,” said Tim.
A herbicide tank mix of 200g/ha Balance and 500g/ha AmiTron (with 1L/ha paraquat where needed) was used from early September on ratoon cane. The mix was applied post-harvest straight over cane up to three-leaf stage.
With a dry start to the season this program allowed Tim to cover quite a lot of ground before the first large rain event occurred two to three weeks after spraying had commenced.
“As Balance is a very insoluble product but UV stable and AmiTron is a very soluble product that’s UV stable I feel I have all bases covered,” he said.
“AmiTron was also easy to use and mixes really well,” he added. “The application was really even.”
Another advantage of AmiTron is its versatility. AmiTron is just as effective over a fresh green trash blanket as it is on bare soil, providing growers with flexibility for use on ratoon or plant cane.
When used in the right tank mix it not only allows for longer periods of efficacy, but can also help in achieving a wider weed spectrum, and reducing risk of crop effects.
Northern AgriServices agronomist Steve Leeson followed the development of AmiTron in Australia during the registration process and had a chance to see the herbicide in trials prior to its release in August.
Steve’s standard strategy this year was a mix of Balance and AmiTron early in the season as rainfall can be limited and infrequent.
“AmiTron is a great tank mixing partner and gives us flexibility,” said Steve. “You can spray over the top of cane early on, and one advantage over metribuzin is that it’s superior on vines.”
Later in the season when their rainfall is more regular, Steve is using AmiTron in conjunction with S-Metolachlor as a herbicide application that can be applied over the top of sugarcane up to eight-leaf stage.
“This can be a top up that will control just about everything and the ease of spraying over the top of cane makes it convenient for farmers,” he said.
Cane growers who haven’t tried the new herbicide this year can still use AmiTron later this season to control troublesome vines. A post-emergent spray of up to 1kg/ha can be applied in ratoons or plant cane after canopy closure for effective vine control.