Renewable Farming

How WakeUP Summer helps you fry runaway late-season weeds

We’re often asked: Can WakeUP Summer intensify the burndown effect of contact herbicides, like it enhances foliar nutrients?

The answer is yes. It can help you cope with tough weeds late in the season, like Marestail and Waterhemp that escaped.

Rather than posing as herbicide experts, we prefer to focus on WakeUP Summer’s ability to mobilize foliar nutrients. There are simply too many hundreds of weedkiller combinations to advise what works best in each circumstance. But the general principal applies: WakeUP Summer does three jobs in a spray program:

1. It’s a super surfactant. WakeUP’s formulation creates “colloidal micelles” when blended with water. This physical principal is dramatically different than the hundreds of other wetting agents and stickers for ag use. WakeUP sharply reduces surface tension of the spray solution.

Spray droplets “sheet” across the leaf rather than forming rounded beads. That maximizes coverage of leaves. If you use about 20 gallons of water per acre, corn or soybean leaves will look glossy after spraying. After a few minutes they’ll appear almost dry.

That’s because the spray ingredients penetrate into the leaf, rather than “sticking” on the surface.

Here’s the reason:

2. WakeUP softens and temporarily lifts the waxy cuticle on leaves. That allows spray ingredients to absorb quickly into leaf metabolism. A “sticker” like crop oil will help hold spray materials on the leaf surface. But WakeUP speeds penetration of your spray “payload” into the palisade cells where sugar manufacturing happens. 

We’ve used using objective lab tissue tests hundreds of times to document higher nutrient absorption of virtually every major and minor element.

Intensifying herbicide effect is more subjective. Farmers tell us that herbicides work faster and more aggressively with WakeUP Summer in the spray tank. We have photographed major differences in burndown effect during our experiments with our home-made weedkillers brewed from acetic acid, ammonium sulfate, boron and a wide array of other ingredients. (We’re searching for a safe alternative to “terminate” cover crops, and dessicate weeds in small grains without leaving glyphosate residue.)

3. WakeUP mobilizes herbicide spray materials through plant phloem systems, much as it mobilizes NPK and trace elements when you’re foliar feeding. Contact herbicides need to “go systemic” for thorough takedown of weeds. 

Internal mobilization improves because WakeUP’s colloidal micelle structures reduce the surface tension of plant sap flowing from leaves to all parts of the crop. That increased flow carries dissolved weedkillers.

Farmers who’ve used WakeUP several years have their own herbicide “recipes” and know how much they can shave back chemical rates and still get effective control. We don’t try to make those recommendations. There are simply too many herbicide cocktails and too many variations in conditions such as temperature, water quality and spray rates. What we usually suggest is to spray half or more of a field without WakeUP in the tank mix; then add WakeUP at the rate of 5 ounces per acre and finish the spray job. After a day or so, compare the rate of weed control.

Here is one of our burndown comparisons, with and without WakeUP on cereal rye in our greenhouse. The herbicide is “Contact” from Australia.


Cereal rye “fried” and stayed dead after a contact herbicide plus WakeUP

Most of our own contact herbicide experience over several years is with Cobra on soybeans. We’ve been surprised to see less soybean leaf damage when we include 5 ounces per acre of WakeUP in the tank with the label rate of Cobra. We also use Pursanova structured water, which nudges down the surface tension a bit, so your results may not match ours. Please see the photo below from July of 2014, a few days after we sprayed Cobra and 5 ounces of WakeUP Summer on escaped weeds in soybeans.

Farmers tell us that crop oil adjuvants which are “stickers” hold Cobra on the leaf longer, leading to more burning and bronzing of soybean leaves than you’d see without MSO or other oils. We suggest that if you use WakeUP Summer as a surfactant with a burndown herbicide, leave out the crop oil unless the chemical label requires it. (We always say to read and follow the label.)

One definite benefit we’ve learned in almost 10 years of experience with WakeUP and its widely varying ancestral formulations: It’s the safest surfactant we’ve found.

We use the same WakeUP Summer product for safely cleansing vegetables as we use in the spray tank for helping clobber tough weeds. Our family makes a lot of vegetable juice! We simply soak greens, apples and other juicing fruit or veggies in a 1:100 solution of WakeUP Summer and water in the kitchen sink, then rinse the fresh produce and juice it. Obviously we’d never use a petroleum-based surfactant to wash veggies, clean household surfaces and help in the laundry. Most surfactant labels warn of severe toxicity.

We like to play it safe, and keep our health!


Soybeans a few days after spraying with Cobra and WakeUP Summer

Another example of how WakeUP mobilizes herbicides emerges from our field trials this spring, testing an updated version of the Australian burndown, Contact. The product was sprayed on vigorously growing mixed grasses in one of our waterways. The Contact browned the leaves, but did not “go systemic” and burn the grass to the ground.


Above: Contact weedkiller applied alone to orchardgrass
Using the same ready-to-use retail strength of Contact a few feet away on grasses, we added a new hyper-surfactant created by Generation Ag, our contract manufacturer for WakeUP. It drops the surface tension of water drastically. So drastically that when we used a similar formulation on young corn, it slowed down osmosis from the roots for a while.  That’s exactly what we want to happen for turndown purposes, though.  This is why we’re experimenting with a version of WakeUP which we’ve dubbed WakeUP HOT.  
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Below: Contact weedkiller tank-mixed with
WakeUP HOT and applied to orchardgrass