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Cotton weed control – no ‘easy’ button anymore

Cotton weed control – no ‘easy’ button anymore

Due to weed resistance, there's no such thing as an easy button in weed control anymore, but that doesn't mean the battle is lost. One session of the 2012 Beltwide Cotton Conferences, to be held Jan. 3-6, in Orlando, Fla., will address ways that growers can more effectively manage weed resistance. The session will also focus on managing pests after the loss of Temik and the use of site specific applications to reduce costs.

All they’ve ever known is glyphosate, those young farmers who got into the business after the advent of Roundup Ready technology. For them, residual herbicides were old school. A hooded sprayer — might as well be a Model T. Weed control for these guys was running through the field at 18 miles per hour with a 90-foot boom.

Unfortunately, resistant weeds are making these “glyphosate youngsters,” as some are fondly called, change their ways on weed control. But they’re not alone. Older farmers may recall the pre-Roundup Ready days all too well, but are proving a bit rusty and in need of remedial instruction on how the old tools can work best with new ones.

This issue as well as numerous other pest management issues will be discussed at length at the 2012 Beltwide Cotton Conferences, Jan. 3-6, at the Orlando World Center Marriott in Orlando, Fla. Conference information, including instructions for early housing and registration, is available at

A discussion of weed resistance will kick off at 8:45 a.m., Wednesday morning, Jan. 3, in a session called “Managing Cotton with a Changing Arsenal of Tools.” Larry Steckel, weed scientist at the University of Tennessee, will discuss glyphosate-resistant weeds, and how they’ve changed grower perspectives on weed control.

The session will also address other emerging management challenges, such as options after the loss of Temik and the emergence of secondary pests after boll weevil eradication and Bt cotton. University of Arkansas nematologist Terry Kirkpatrick will provide a perspective on nematode and disease management, while University of Georgia entomologist Phillip Roberts will discuss insect management.

“The underlying thing is that we’re losing products, and we have more restrictions on the products we do have, so getting new products into the marketplace is going to be more challenging,” said Bill Robertson, National Cotton Council manager, agronomy, soils and physiology and coordinator of Beltwide Cotton Conferences programming. “We’re going to have to do a good job of making what we have last.”

The most pressing of the emerging problems is the impact of resistant weeds on the Roundup Ready weed control system. “There isn’t an Easy button anymore, but we can get resistance under control,” said Robertson. “Some farmers are having to relearn old ways of doing things, and others, who’ve known nothing else but the boom and glyphosate, are learning to grow cotton using residual products.

“The new compounds aren’t nearly as foolproof as glyphosate. We have trouble getting rain on some of compounds and getting them activated, and then we have problems when we get a foot of rain behind them and we lose them. It’s not just a cotton problem or a corn problem or a soybean problem. It’s a problem for everybody.”

Later Wednesday afternoon morning on Jan. 3, scientists and researchers will discuss new options for cotton producers in the absence of Temik, which is expected to be phased out of the market by 2014. The session is called “Thrips and Nematode Management: Making the Right Decisions on Early-Season Pest Control.”

 “In some parts of the country, the loss of Temik created a pretty big void,” Robertson said. “In others, it hasn’t. For example, in the Mid-South, producers have made the switch to seed treatments, and the loss of Temik wasn’t that great an issue.”

On Thursday morning, Jan. 4, scientists will examine site specific applications of products like Telone in a session called, “Understanding and Implementing Site Specific Applications for Management of Nematodes.”

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