My phone is ringing earlier than normal this year, which indicates we are having great success getting crops planted in most areas.
Many regular callers have already checked in. The question that invariably comes up: “Do you have your arrangement with Riceland Foods again this year?” I do and I enjoy every minute of it. That arrangement allows me to operate out in the field and do things like write this article every week, much as I did when I was a University of Arkansas weed scientist.
I welcome telephone calls from everyone, and members and their consultants get the benefit of field troubleshooting at no charge. I look forward to working with everyone again this year and I have only one phone number — (501) 681 3413.
My e-mail address is at the end of this article.
Last week I discussed the need for more diversity in our weed management systems and concentrated on soybeans. Dr. Steve Powles from Australia, who is internationally recognized as the authority on herbicide resistance has just published a news release called Plant diversity’s last roundup. I won’t go into details here, but he marvels at how far too many growers are passively letting the world’s best weed control technology slip right away.
He makes a great point about rotating weed control technologies — if you wait until you have resistance, it is too late to rotate and you just begin using up the next technology in line.
At least in soybeans we have LibertyLink and it should be adopted as rapidly as seed production and herbicide production capacity will allow.
In rice, however, we have different issues. I am continually asked, “Will we ever get LibertyLink rice?” I do not have a crystal ball. Market acceptance would certainly have to come first. Even then, it would seem a safe bet it will not happen as long as the litigations continue.
For the foreseeable future we must do the best we can to preserve the herbicide technology in rice that we currently have. By the telephone calls, more farmers and consultants are conscious of the need to increase herbicide diversity in their programs.
However, as easily as weeds spread, we need everybody on the same page. Keeping current herbicides or technologies like Clearfield rice viable will require more than just the efforts of the more forward-thinking farmers.
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My first recommendation for weed control in rice for this year is to make a goal of not allowing any barnyardgrass or red rice to go to seed in the rotated crop. Try to not add a single seed back to the soil seed bank. Then strive for 100 percent barnyardgrass, red rice and tighthead sprangletop control in the rice crop.
Is that a tall order? You bet! It may not be doable in every case but strive to come as close as possible. That means you may have to make an extra herbicide application just to control a scattered barnyardgrass infestation that will not influence either soybean or rice yield — depending upon which crop the field is in.
While it may seem that I am just “pushing herbicides,” that is not the case. Every farmer’s first objective is to be able to farm again next year. I still consider that to be the best definition of “sustainable agriculture” that I ever heard.
However, I am constantly told by farmers, “This field or this farm will not profitably grow anything but rice.” Unless you already know what Plan B is for those fields, you have to look at weed control as a long-term investment. That means spending more on herbicides or even some roguing (I know that is a forbidden term and I don’t use it often).
Starting out the year we have pre-emergence treatments that are not getting activated timely or growers holding off on pre-emergence treatments as they wait for a better rainfall forecast. This means that the timing of a first postemergence treatment will likely be much more critical than it was last year.