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Herbicide drift damaging rice

Last week, I mentioned some of the issues with Newpath on conventional rice that I am being called about. These calls continue to come.

My university counterparts have received more Newpath drift calls than normal as well. At present, four out of every five requests to come to a field involve some problem with Newpath on conventional rice. Most involve drift, but there have also been several cases of miscommunication between neighbors, and also between farmers and applicators on whether a particular field was Clearfield or conventional rice.

These situations are never good. They have led to more talk of “defensive” planting of Clearfield rice. While it is easy for the good doctor to sit at his desk and say that is a bad idea, I have looked at several fields this year where I must admit I couldn’t blame the farmer for his thinking.

Every farmer must decide what is best for him. If it takes planting the entire farm in Clearfield to insure you can grow a crop, I can not tell you that is a totally bad idea. However, I wish to point out some of the pitfalls in hopes that there could somehow be a better solution.

Most weed scientists I know feel we are growing more Clearfield rice now than is sustainable over time — unless we get a breakthrough in new technology. As we continue to increase the acres, most likely we are shortening the life of the technology.

I know I have long since become like a broken record on the subject of weed resistance. However, I have a passion for sustaining our best technology and I am not going to let up. There is a huge difference between now and most of the rest of my career.

First we have never had technology as good as Roundup Ready or Clearfield. Both have been game-changers. The stakes, therefore, are much greater if we lose them.

Also, for most of my career, the pipeline was full of new herbicides. In most cases, as we saw a resistance problem developing, there were herbicides in the pipeline that were better on that weed anyway — so it was not a big deal to most. The pipeline is empty, especially in rice.

The pressure is on us to preserve what we have. I hear some say, “Aw, we will get LibertyLink rice or something else.” I sure hope so, but when and are you willing to bet the farm on it?

We went down this same road with corn. A lot of growers planted Roundup Ready corn in the beginning out of self defense. I looked at enough glyphosate drift on conventional corn to understand why. Most growers initially used conventional herbicides in the Roundup Ready corn. Over time though the progression was to glyphosate-based programs and we lost a lot of the benefit of what could have been a great resistance management tool.

You are in a Catch 22 if you try to plant Clearfield rice and use only conventional herbicides on it. If you plant every acre to Clearfield and continue to pound it with Newpath and Beyond, resistant barnyardgrass will be the most likely end result. If you plant Clearfield rice and use only conventional herbicides on it, you greatly increase the chances for red rice resistance due to out-crossing if any red is present.

It is easy for me to sit here and tell everyone to implement a five-year resistance management plan using the greatest diversity of crops and crop technologies possible. I believe that has to happen sooner rather than later.

I also realize nothing is ever that simple on the farm. I am constantly told, “Five years don’t matter if I do not survive the next one or two.” I do not have all the answers, but I hear what the weeds are telling me and that is using a year to year approach without new technology is not sustainable.

I hope there is a better solution to the Newpath on conventional rice problem than planting 100 percent of the acres in Clearfield rice.


TAGS: Rice
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