In late 2010, herbicide-resistant pigweed had such a grip on Mid-South fields that University of Arkansas researchers held a conference addressing only that weed. Cleverly titled “Pigposium” the event drew an impressive 800 attendees.
Now, four years later and still seeking to solve the pigweed problem, a revamped Pigposium is back. Set for July 23, the “Respect the Rotation Pigposium” -- co-sponsored by the University of Arkansas and Bayer CropScience – will kick off at 8:30 a.m. at the Northeast Research and Extension Center in Keiser, Ark.
In early July, Delta Farm Press caught up with Bob Scott, Arkansas weed specialist, to discuss the conference and field tour. Among his comments:
On the necessity for such events…
“When we had the first Pigposium, the resistant pigweed problem had really just exploded. We had a great turnout at that meeting because it was a problem for producers that they’d not faced before. They came looking for answers.
“At this point, four or five years later, most growers know they have resistant pigweeds and are doing what they can to deal with it. The problem, of course, is everything we try on pigweeds is coming up short.
“We’re utilizing LibertyLink soybeans, residual herbicides in Roundup Ready beans. But it isn’t enough. We’re barely keeping ahead of these pigweeds in soybean fields. The same is true in cotton fields.
“So, we’re just surviving. There’s no beating pigweed at this time.
“This meeting is looking at the next steps we might take, new technologies. There are also small things we can do, things to tweak, with the existing technologies. There’s always room for improvement.
“But I think eyes at the meeting will really be on the new tools that are coming soon. We just have to wait for them to get through the long process of getting to market.”
Balance GT soybeans
On Scott’s Pigposium topic: Residual herbicide programs in Balance GT soybeans…
“I’ll be discussing Bayer’s new herbicide-tolerant soybean that’s coming, Balance beans. Those will be used in conjunction with the Balance herbicide, currently available for use in corn.
“Balance belongs to a group of chemistry called ‘HPPD inhibitors.’ Those are sometimes referred to as ‘bleachers’ because they tend to turn a plant white. There are number of herbicides in group, which is mainly used in corn although we are looking a new one for rice.
“Currently, none are labeled in soybeans. So, it does represent a new mode of action for soybean growers. Anytime we can get that it will help with resistance management.
“I’m not going to blow smoke about these HPPD beans. I don’t think they’ll stand alone. I don’t think they’ll replace Roundup or LibertyLink as a foundation-type herbicide. However, they will fit in nicely as a program approach for pigweed control.
“Down the road, as Bayer stacks this technology with LibertyLink, with Roundup Ready and other herbicide tolerances, it’ll provide an attractive package for growers. They’ll like being able to use multiple modes of action on the beans.”
On the zero tolerance approach to pigweeds…
“A lot of folks have adopted a zero tolerance approach to pigweeds. But it’s tough to really get that nailed down.
“Zero tolerance is kind of like a perfect golf game. Everyone wants it so bad but it’s unobtainable for most. But the philosophical concept of zero tolerance has filtered out; it’s in the back of everyone’s mind now.
“It sounds so simple but sometimes it’s so hard to do. You’ve got to get out of the truck and look for pigweeds. When you find one, deal with it. Don’t let a patch pop up; don’t let it go to seed. Assure your neighbor that you want to know if they see a pigweed that you don’t know about.
“And that’s all happening.
“Other things are helping. A good example is the Arkansas Plant Board lifted the ban on 2,4-D applications to levees. That’s been very helpful in northeast Arkansas in rice rotations. Before that, even if a producer wanted to do something in such situations, he didn’t have a good herbicide for it.
“And since the first Pigposium, many producers have managed to battle and push pigweeds back. It has taken, and continues to take, tremendous effort and money, though.”
On continuing drift problems…
“2014 has been phenomenal for herbicide activity. We’ve seen our residual herbicides in rice and soybeans provide four to six weeks of protection. You don’t normally get that kind of residual activity and that’s been great. The reason is it’s been largely cool, cloudy and wet – optimum for residual herbicides.
“Now, along with those conditions, is the rise of enhanced crop injury. And that’s happening. In a normal year where you might see an acceptable level of crop injury, this year has seen excessive amounts of injury. That’s been true in rice and, more severely with some of the products, in soybeans.”