While I was driving to look at some rice fields that were suspected to have glyphosate on them, Bob Scott, University of Arkansas weed scientist, called and asked, “Where are these glyphosate calls coming from all of a sudden?”
As it turns out, he had also received several and all of the calls came in after combines were in the field. I do not write this to diminish the good things I have said about the drift situation being much better this year than last, but as long as rice is intercropped with all Roundup Ready crops, there must be a dedicated effort on everyone's part to prevent drift.
These late-season calls are killers. In almost each case, the crop has looked great all year, the farmer is hearing of great yields from his neighbors, he puts the combine in the field and starts cutting half a crop.
Going out on those calls are bummers because little can be done to help the farmers at that point.
I will say again that I am disappointed that a better defined glyphosate educational effort did not come forth from the recent Plant Board committee meeting.
Another situation that caused several telephone calls late in the season was what appeared in the field to be direct applications of glyphosate, Newpath, Beyond or a grass herbicide such as Select to rice about the time a midseason herbicide or later fungicide application would have been made.
I looked at a couple and my university counterparts looked at a couple more that I am aware of. In all cases it was obvious that a direct application had occurred.
In all cases the applicators involved looked at the fields and even said it was obvious they somehow did it. These applicators have excellent reputations and those things “just do not happen in their operations.”
In both cases the guys involved have reviewed procedures until they are blue and cannot figure how it could have happened. Those are bad days for the farmers, the applicators and the guys like me who have to make the calls on what is wrong with the rice.
I would never tell an applicator how to run his business. I often tell them that if I know more about how they should be running their business than they do, we are both in the wrong business. In the situations mentioned above, I would not even know how to make a suggestion as to how they could be more meticulous or careful.
I challenge everyone in the off-season to review all procedures and I admonish all farmers and applicators to never, never, never pour anything into a container that does not have a clear label for the product being poured into it.
I will give an example of how something can happen to anyone — hopefully it won't cost me a divorce. My Ph.D. wife reported earlier this year that everything in the garden was dying and all she had sprayed was Select. I looked and said, “Honey, it is glyphosate.” She fuzzed up and said nothing goes in the sprayer labeled “graminicide” but Select.
I shut up and was in the shop a couple of days later when she pulled a bottle off the shelf and said, “I could not find any crop oil when I sprayed the Select so I used this.”
What she showed me came from a sealed bottle from an adjuvant company and looked like crop oil, so it must be crop oil — right? Well this one happened to be an experimental glyphosate formulation that we had never used. Needless to say I got the blame for it still being where she could find it!
I have no clue what happened in the situations in the rice fields. I will say, however, that in my career I have seen the most mysterious screw-ups come from herbicides that were poured into surfactant or crop oil jugs and somehow got in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Also, never use anything that you are not 100 percent sure of what it is. Never assume anything.