September 2, 2022
You could barely see the cotton. It was swallowed up by the pigweed jungle the research plot had become. The sign next to the plot read, “Ever wonder what happens if only one herbicide application is made?”
The plot and sign were at the Sunbelt Ag Expo research farm in south Georgia and part of UGA Extension weed specialist Stanley Culpepper’s herbicide and weed research there. The research was a visceral reminder that controlling weeds is no one-and-done deal.
Farmers know this. They wouldn’t be in business if they didn’t. Farmer know weed control in cotton and all other major row crops demands a system approach and even the best implemented weed systems fall short and major weed escapes happen. Weather and timing must cooperate.
Pigweed and morningglory crippled another research plot nearby. Not as bad as the previous plot, but the cotton still succumbed to a major weed infestation and wasn't even close to being economically sustainable. The sign next to that plot read, “Ever wonder what happens if only two herbicide applications were made?”
The signs and plots drew interest from the growers and industry people who saw them that day at the Sunbelt Ag Expo annual field day. Regulators, policymakers and environmentalists need to see and understand the message the signs revealed.
Farmers use what they must and no more. We’re not fighting nature, but we must have the means to manage nature. If we don’t have the pesticide tools and the practical permission to use them, we won’t continue to have the quality food and fiber at the costs consumers have grown accustomed to, and workable, on-farm conservation practices will be jeopardized.
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