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Serving: Central

Wrong direction with herbicide-resistant weeds

Ken Smith, University of Arkansas weed scientist, and I are nearly life-long friends, going back to our Oklahoma State graduate student days. We were shooting the bull the other day and he reminded me that “we had no influence.” That was somewhat sobering but very true.

I have been writing diligently about herbicide resistance since 2005. I get more positive comments on my Delta Farm Press

articles than everything else I have done in my career combined. One would think that would translate to some influence.

I have watched Ken and other university counterparts deliver an excellent message on herbicide resistance over the past couple of years. They sure should have influence. However, I am not sure that all of us combined have influenced one farmer to let go of the stone of cheap glyphosate-only programs before they were about to drown.

The influence news isn’t all bad. Ken went on to say in that conversation that “pigweeds… now they have influence!” If the pigweeds do not have your attention now, you need to get out and ride around in areas where they already have influence.

When the pigweeds get your attention, the weed scientists and others can help you. I just wish we could influence more folks before they are in the ditch.

Ken had an excellent article in a recent Delta Farm Press issue about “reality farming.” I would suggest every farmer start a herbicide resistance notebook. Every time you see an article that has something you think might help you, put it in there.

We must go from the pigweeds having your attention to getting things headed back in the right direction. At present we are still headed the wrong direction. The problem is far worse this year than in 2009. With this year’s seed production, it will be far worse next year if we do not get things turned around.

I told a group recently that if you looked in the back of a farmer’s pickup five years ago there would typically be an ice chest, grease gun, a few tools, a 20-pound green Freon tank and set of charge hoses, and perhaps a jug of hydraulic fluid. Now if you look in the back of a cotton farmer’s pickup you will typically see a bigger ice chest along with a bunch of hoes and files. That is typical of what you would have seen in the back of my grandfather’s 1954 Chevy pickup.

Folks, there is something wrong with that picture. We are headed in the wrong direction.

I have heard and read of weed scientists who had recommended growers disk up Roundup Ready soybean and cotton crops earlier in the spring because at that point there was no hope of salvaging the crop.

I recently had my experience with that recommendation. I was called to look at a couple of hundred acres of soybeans planted behind wheat that were overgrown with pigweeds. The soybeans were two trifoliate and the pigweeds were anywhere from 3 to 24 inches tall.

Hind sight is always 20-20 so I would never be critical and the grower did not make all bad decisions. He planted Roundup Ready soybeans behind all of his wheat and burned down with glyphosate and Valor. He got timely rains on a lot of that acreage to activate the Valor and was in pretty good shape.

On 200 acres he did not get the rain and that is a fact of life with residual herbicides. He burned down again with Ignite and killed the small pigweeds but the big ones re-grew. Ignite is an excellent herbicide but one application will not kill 12- to 24-inch pigweeds. By the time the re-growth occurred, the Roundup Ready soybeans had emerged and it was over.

The grower was looking to me for answers and I had none. I don’t like that. I recommended he disk them up before the pigweeds set any seed, fallow work every time a new flush emerged, and plant it back in wheat.

I was not prepared for his response. He simply looked at me with little expression and said, “Doc you are kidding.”

I hope he sprayed the pigweeds with some concoction and they died. I left feeling totally empty. We are headed in the wrong direction. I am going to spend a lot of time on what will work and what will not work in future articles.


TAGS: Soybean
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