Renewable Farming

Yes — WakeUP Summer intensifies benefits of contact herbicides

The most-asked questions we’ve heard from farmers about WakeUP the past several days are:

— Will WakeUP Summer help me cope with resistant weeds like palmer amaranth and marestail?

— Should I tank-mix MSO or other “sticker” with WakeUP for contact herbicides?

— If my herbicide label specifies “no surfactant,” should I use WakeUP Summer anyway?

— What’s the most effective rate per acre of WakeUP with my particular herbicide mix?

— Will WakeUP make Liberty herbicide too hot?

June 13, 2017 Our general observation is this: WakeUP Summer relaxes surface tension so spray solutions spread uniformly on weed leaves. It’s also a leaf cleanser, lifting the leaf cuticle and allowing quicker absorption of active herbicide ingredients into weed metabolism.

We also recommend adherence to all mandated federal herbicide labels. “No surfactant” means just that; the manufacturer has tested efficacy in ways that back this up. 

Most contact herbicides require systemic absorption for peak effectiveness, and that’s what WakeUP is for.

Our research focuses almost entirely on ways WakeUP can mobilize nutrient solutions. Not herbicides — which are often such complex cocktails that we couldn’t possibly test efficacy on many of them. Thus, what we report here is based mostly on our limited on-farm use of a few herbicides like Cobra, and on what farmers tell us from their experience.

So here are some general guidelines:

1. For contact spray solutions, a rate of around 5 ounces per acre should be adequate to reduce water surface tension so that spray droplets spread out and coalesce on leaves. Even on fuzzy leaves like buttonweed. 

Leaf sprayed with herbicide plus WakeUP Summer is clear-coated

2. When blending spray mixes, add WakeUP to water first with your induction system or ordinary filling hose. Water should look slightly milky after WakeUP is added, and feel more slippery. This is colloidal micelle action. Each WakeUP colloid is attracting a sphere of water molecules around it, holding onto the positive ends of each water molecule. This creates a small sphere, a “micelle” with a negatively charged outer shell. Each micelle repels its neighboring micelle. But each micelle is hungry for hydrocarbons and positively charged elements in the herbicide mixture. This is what reduces surface tension of water, and helps chemicals penetrate the leaf.

3. Our field experience is that oil-based “stickers” are not needed if the recommended rate of WakeUP is in the spray tank. However, if required by label, add the minimum amount to stay in warranty. Our tests over several years indicate that WakeUP Summer alone as the surfactant and carrier may reduce crop leaf burn of herbicides like Cobra, while intensifying the systemic effect on weeds. Our theory is that chemicals that remain on crop leaf surfaces — especially those captured outside the leaf cuticle with stickers and polymers — are a substantial source of leaf surface phytotoxicity. See the photos at the bottom of this summary.

4. In the early days of resistance to glyphosate in Southern states, farmers were telling us that adding our technology — colloidal micelle formulations for surfactant purposes — mobilized glyphosate more effectively to all points of the weed, reducing resistant weed survival.  Those days may be fading as weeds develop more resistance to glyphosate and other herbicides. We haven’t heard any farmer tell us of a problem using WakeUP and glufosinate. Regardless, we don’t want to pose as weed control experts. Our main intent is keeping crops healthy with good nutrition. We acknowledge that growers in “modern agriculture” including cover crop growers heavily depend on chemical weed control. Our hope is that WakeUP Summer, as a surfactant/carrier, can help restrain the rates of usage by making applied materials more effective.

Our main concern is that we don’t present or claim that WakeUP itself is, in any way, a pesticide or herbicide. It is an exceptionally effective surfactant and mobilizer.

5. We encourage spraying 15 to 20 gallons of water for uniform leaf coverage on weeds. At low rates, droplets will still spread out over leaves, but clear-coating with adequate rates allows the quickest and most complete absorption. Medium droplet size reduces drift and evaporation, which are typically more of a problem as we move into warmer, breezy weeks of the season.

Photos below show field results of late-season application of Cobra and Rhythm, tank-mixed with WakeUP Summer, on soybeans. 

Cobra/WakeUP Summer on soybeans, Photo is about 5 days after application. Weeds dying, little burn on beans.
Rhythm herbicide tank-mixed with WakeUP Summer on soybeans, six days after application. Weeds fried, very modest burn on beans.