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Scared Straight

A weed resistance meeting that I attended today reminded me of those Scared Straight programs from junior high – the ones where they take you to the county jail or the state prison and show what your life will be like if don’t follow the rules.

Instead of taking us to the county jail, speakers at the Peterson Farms Seed seminar gave us of tour of Mid-South soybean and cotton farms.

Instead of seeing an 8- x 8-foot concrete cell with iron bars, we saw soybeans in Arkansas choked out by glyphosate-resistant pigweeds.

Instead of being greeted by inmate named Crank with a neck as thick as your thigh, a Mid-South farmer told us how he had to spend $230 per acre one year just to reclaim a field from glyphosate-resistant pigweed.

Instead of catching a glimpse of chain gangs, we saw hoe crews working weedy cotton fields under a hot sun.

We learned that the descent into this weed-resistant hell could be as slippery as a junior high boy’s slide from smoking, to drinking, to doing drugs. One year you see a pigweed here and there sticking out above the soybean canopy. The next year there are big patches of pigweeds throughout the field. The next year, the whole field is covered by pigweed and you can’t even see the beans. Your life as a happy farmer is over.

“Learn from our mistakes,” said Ford Baldwin, of Practical Weed Consultants, Austin, Ark. “You can avoid all this.”

Even if you have clean fields now, start managing like you have glyphosate-resistant weeds, he advised.

Stop using glyphosate year after year. Sure, it costs only $3 per acre and works like magic, but it won’t work forever. There’s already glphosate-resistant ragweed and waterhemp in the region. Michael Christoffers, North Dakota State University assistant weed science professor, said he suspects there are resistant lambsquarter and kochia, too.

Save glyphosate for the crop you need it in the most – sugarbeets, soybeans or canola, for instance. There is plenty of other “firepower” to use in corn, Baldwin said.

Try Liberty Link corn or soybeans.

Bottom line: Spend an extra $10, $20 or $30 per acre controlling weeds on some your acres now. It will save $30 per acre or more on all of your land in the future.

It scared me straight.

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