Rotary Hoe Can be an Effective Weed Control Tool
the past decade, the rotary hoe has enjoyed a renewed popularity among all
types of farm operations with all types of weed control programs.
A rotary hoe can complement current cultural weed control practices
and has the potential to reduce chemical inputs.
The rotary hoe serves two basic functions:
1) removing small weeds, and
2) loosening crusted or compacted soil to aid in crop emergence.
Its use is generally limited to large-seeded crops such as corn and
These crops are planted relatively deep and have root systems that
develop fast enough to anchor the young seedlings.
Experienced rotary hoe users tell us that “timing is
everything” when it comes to effectively utilizing this implement to
If you can see the weeds—you’re too late.
Hoeing should begin when weed seeds have germinated but are still
“in the white.”
Large-seeded, broadleaf weeds need to be controlled before they
have a chance to develop a taproot.
Depending upon the moisture and weather conditions, rotary hoeing
should begin 5-7 days after planting or just before crop emergence.
If cool weather follows planting, this will probably be too early.
A better gauge for determining the best time to rotary how is to
monitor crop development.
Current recommendations are to begin hoeing when the corn shoot is
about one-half inch below the soil surface (assuming a 1.5-inch planting
For those relying heavily on the rotary hoe to control weeds (e.g.
in an organic system), another pass 5-10 days later is also recommended.
Don’t be bashful when it comes to ground speed as you hoe.
Best results are obtained in the 7-10 mph range.
It is also important that soils be relatively dry so when weeds are
“flipped out” they do not reestablish.
Hoe in hot, sunny, windy weather during the warmest part of the
As you hoe, start and stop abruptly so that weeds are effectively
controlled at field ends.
Also, do not make sharp turns unless the hoe is raised completely
out of the ground.
This will save both on the implement and reduce crop seedling loss.
Generally, figure on about 10% crop seedling loss with rotary
hoeing, making it important to adjust seeding rates accordingly.
If you’re planning to purchase a rotary hoe, size the hoe width
in multiples of your planter size.
Driving in the same wheel tracks will minimize compaction.
In summary, a rotary hoe can be a valuable addition to any weed
control program. Their
effectiveness, however, will be limited to operator skill, timeliness, and
For more information contact Mike Rankin