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sefp-brad-haire-cotton-clean-pigweed-jungle-low.jpg Brad Haire

Welcome to the pigweed jungle

A place where pigweeds tower more than eight feet tall, and it's OK.

A small strip of perfectly weed-free cotton stood inside the pigweed jungle.

Stanley Culpepper, University of Georgia Extension weed specialist, created the pigweed jungle, where pigweeds towered more than eight feet tall, at the Sunbelt Ag Expo research farm located in Moultrie, Ga. He was proud of the mess and the small plot of cotton amongst it all.

Georgia cotton growers can create their own pigweed jungles, too, he said, by letting poor management decisions linger unchecked in fields. This patch of pigweeds served a productive purpose, though.

“It'll only take two to three years to accomplish this goal if you try hard or make really bad management decisions. So, when we're doing research, we want to challenge all programs to the nth degree. … I can come in here, and I can challenge the best weed management programs,” said Culpepper, during the annual Sunbelt Expo Field Day July 25.

Across the narrow road from the pigweed jungle, set a 6-acre field of perfectly weed-free cotton, lending proof that regardless of how a neighbor does or doesn’t manage pigweed, a prudent grower can keep his fields clean. It costs money, time and cooperative weather patterns, but it can be done -- for now.

Over the last decade, Georgia cotton farmers “have done a phenomenal job” overcoming resistant pigweed by adapting proven agronomic practices, adjusting as needed to maintain a viable cotton industry, he said. Cotton growers across the region have done equally well, and the effort on this can’t be praised enough. Unfortunately, there’s a warning that can’t be said enough, too.

Cotton growers can’t rest.

New auxin technologies have been accepted by growers over the last few years. Smokes pigweed when used correctly. But that one pigweed is out there; the one that doesn’t mind a dose of auxin. That plant left to seed by accident, purpose or circumstances, well, we know the story. We’ve been there. Welcome to the pigweed jungle. If or when that happens, it will be hard to hack a clear path out of it. We want to be cotton growers; not pigweed growers.

That little strip of weed-free cotton in the pigweed jungle received a pre-emergence with later sequential Roundup-Dicamba applications over the top. Culpepper then gave it a layby application of Roundup plus diuron along with a little bit of Envoke to clean up morning glory.

Take care. Good luck, and thanks for reading.

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