The question of when to control weeds traditionally has been approached with the calculation of critical periods (CP) based on crop yields. The concept of economic critical period (ECP) and early (EEPT) and late (LEFT) economic period thresholds are presented as a comprehensive approach to answer the same question based on economic losses and costs of control. ECP is defined as the period when the benefit of controlling weeds is greater than its cost. EEPT and LEFT are the limits of the ECP and can be used to determine when first and last weed control measures should be performed. Calculation of EEPT accounts for the economic losses due to weed competition that occur between planting and postemergence weed control. In this way it is possible to better evaluate the economic feasibility of using preplant or preemergence control tactics. The EEPT for DCPA application is analyzed in the context of onion production in Colorado. The EEPT for DCPA application was calculated from an empirical regression model that assessed the impact of weed load and time of weed removal on onion yields. The EEPT was affected by control efficacy, weed-free yield, DCPA cost, and onion price. DCPA application was economically advisable in only one of 20 fields analyzed because of the tow DCPA efficacy (60%).