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Articles from 2005 In September


Producers try to feed, water cattle stranded by Rita

ABBEVILLE, LA. – Cattle producers along Louisiana’s Gulf Coast are still rounding up their herds, and they are desperate for feed, hay and water for their cattle displaced by Hurricane Rita. The animals have been forced to high ground where little forage remains.

“We’re talking thousands of cattle stranded,” said Dr. Jason Rowntree, LSU AgCenter cattle specialist. “Early reports are that as many as 20,000 are unaccounted for but not dead.”

In Terrebonne Parish, 2,000 head of cattle are stranded on high ground, he said.

The area affected by Hurricane Rita has a cattle population of roughly 170,000 head, according to the LSU AgCenter’s Ag Summary.

Feed is being shipped and distributed in staging areas in Abbeville at the Cecil McCrory Exhibit Building, at the Iberia Parish Research Station near Jeanerette, in Cameron Parish at the Sweet Lake Land and Cattle Co., in Calcasieu Parish at the Miller Livestock Barn in DeQuincy, and in Raceland at the Agricultural Fair Building.

Donations or help with transport may be arranged by calling Rowntree at (225) 578-3345 or Bob Felknor of the Louisiana Cattleman’s Association at (225) 343-3491. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is accepting donations at 1-866-233-3872.

The situation is critical.

“I'm afraid many of the cattle are going to die if we don't get them something to eat and drink,” said Howard Cormier, LSU AgCenter county agent in Vermilion Parish. “We have a 10-page list of people who need feed.”

Current needs include 200 round bales in Calcasieu Parish, 500 round bales in Cameron Parish, 1,000 round bales in Vermilion Parish and 200 bales for Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes. All parishes need range cubes and fencing.

“We’re doing our best to solicit help from across the nation,” Rowntree said.

With the going rate of $3 a mile, the biggest problem now is getting transport for the supplies, Rowntree said.

“We need fencing bad,” he said. “We’ve got fencing in Alabama, but we can’t get it here.”

A truck from the Knoxville, Tenn., organization Animal SOS arrived in Abbeville late Wednesday morning with 150 bales of hay and 3.5 tons of feed, but it didn't last long. A line of pickups formed quickly at the Cecil McCrory Exhibit Building in Abbeville to haul the feed and hay to herds dispersed throughout Vermilion Parish.

Water is a badly needed commodity because the cattle have been drinking stagnant, salty water. “We need 1,500-gallon tanks of water,” Cormier said.

Dutch Pete of Knoxville, Tenn., drove the Animal SOS truck to Abbeville. The organization started shipping feed for animals after Hurricane Katrina, hauling a total of 250 tons, and now it has expanded to victims of Hurricane Rita, Pete said. Thursday, he said a feed shipment had been arranged from Texas.

“Since the government wasn’t doing anything, we went in there,” he said.

One of those in line to get feed was Joe LeMaire of the community of Theall. He said he can't get water for his cattle because power hasn't been restored to run his pump. LeMaire escaped to the roof of a barn as the water rose around his house Saturday morning.

“I was sitting in my easy chair and the son-in-law called and said ‘Pa, the water is picking up,’” LeMaire said.

LeMaire said he has only 10 head of cattle, but he plans to sell the herd.

“I'm going to call the auction barn to pick them up soon,” he said.

Another cattle owner in the Theall area, Alton Trahan, waited on a herd being brought out of the woods north of La. Highway 82. He chatted with friends driving by, many offering help.

“It’s been a long three days,” Trahan said. “If it weren’t for neighbors, we wouldn’t get any help.”

His 200 head of cattle were being herded by riders on horseback, airboats and flat-bottom boats. Some strays presumably carried by Rita’s tidal surge were from pastures as far as seven miles away.

“There are two offshore boats in the woods,” Trahan said.

Rowntree said LSU AgCenter county agents across the state are doing outstanding work to help cattle owners in a difficult situation.

“Our county agents are rising to the challenge of leadership for producers in livestock relief efforts,” Rowntree said. “You name it, they are stepping up.”

Stop diesel engine sludge

Today’s technologically advanced tractors and diesel pickup trucks require special motor oil.

Diesel engines operate with higher compression ratios, providing torque and power at much lower rpm’s than gasoline engines, thus making the diesel engine a much more desirable power source for higher load applications. Since diesel engines produce soot, which can be abrasive and prevent anti-wear additives from fully protecting critical engine parts, they require a motor oil with special dispersants, extra detergents and extra anti-wear components that are necessary to protect these engines.

Because of stricter emission requirements and changes in engine design, more soot goes into the oil in today's high-technology diesel engines. An oil with soot dispersing additives provides superior protection against engine wear, reducing deposits and viscosity thickening due to soot.

One example of this type of premium motor oil is Shell ROTELLA T Multigrade SAE 15W-40. In addition to its soot dispersing ability, Rotella T is specially formulated with an extremely shear-stable viscosity index improver, providing protection against viscosity loss and improving the ability to maintain oil pressure even under severe conditions.

Shell ROTELLA T meets or exceeds the warranty and service requirements of virtually all manufacturers, including Ford, Dodge, General Motors, plus Caterpiller, Cummins, Detroit Diesel, International, Mack, Volvo and Mercedes-Benz. For more information, visit: www.rotella.com.

Phytogen aims for larger share of U.S. cotton market

Seven years ago Phytogen was a fledgling cotton seed company in California. Today its Acala and Pima cotton varieties dominate San Joaquin Valley cotton acreage.

With almost two dozen cotton varieties available in 2006, Phytogen is going after a similarly significant chunk of what Dow AgroSciences global cotton market specialist Duane Canfield calls the rest of the U.S Cotton Belt, “the market east of California.”

Five years ago Phytogen, a joint venture of America's largest producer, J.G. Boswell Co., and Dow AgroSciences, began introducing non-transgenic germplasm into the California market. Today those cottons dominate the acreage. According to Canfield, Phytogen cotton varieties accounted for about 60 percent of the SJV Acala acreage and about 80 percent of the SJV Pima acreage this season.

With a breeding program in Leland, Miss., since 1990, Phytogen is in the midst of a similar plan to become a major player in the remainder of the Cotton Belt, with an “overall goal of having cotton varieties with Acala quality in the Mid-South within five years — without reducing yields.”

Acala is the dominant upland cotton type in California and commands a fiber premium on the world market. More than 90 percent of California Acala cotton has been exported for decades. With increasingly fewer U.S. textile mills to buy cotton grown nearby, exports have become the primary outlet for Mid-South and Southeast cottons.

Phytogen's pledge to achieve Acala-type quality in Mid-South cotton is part of a growing trend from all major cotton seed companies to improve cotton quality in the area.

With a stable of limited introductions for the area already, Canfield said “rarely” is a Phytogen variety discounted and “some are quite comparable to Fibermax cottons.” Fibermax varieties from Bayer CropScience are popular in several areas of the Cotton Belt because of their fiber package.

“Phytogen cottons meet the world standard for quality, and they yield well,” said Canfield.

Canfield added that Phytogen's breeding effort is using a “marker program second to none” to identify not only fiber quality traits for new varieties, but also to develop host plant resistance traits that could make cotton resistant to plant bugs. He said this Phytogen cotton breeding effort is “about ready to make another breakthrough in our breeding program.”

Canfield promises a more aggressive Phytogen marketing program in 2006. Heretofore, Phytogen varieties have been part of the marketing effort of Dow AgroSciences chemical sales representatives. “We are adding cotton specialists and cotton technical reps to our Phytogen staff,” explained Canfield.

From west to east, here are the varieties Phytogen will offer in 2006. Canfield said commercial supplies will be available in all varieties:

California Acalas

PHY 72 and PHY 78, both conventionals, have been around for several seasons. 72 is No. 1 in the San Joaquin.

New for 2006 will be 725 RF (Roundup Flex). It is similar to 72.

PHY 715 RF is an Acala with a Phy 78 background.

Phytogen will offer its first Widestrike insect protection cotton in California in 2006. It will be a stacked gene, 745 WRF, and will target areas where the beet armyworm can be a problem.

Phytogen 800, the Pima variety planted on 80 percent of the SJV Pima acreage, will continue to be the standard in the Extra Long Staple market.

Phytogen will continue to sell Phytogen 76.

The only Roundup-resistant Pima, 810 R, will be available only in limited quantities.

Canfield said Roundup Flex version of 800 should be available in 2007 or 2008.

East of California

There will be 14 varieties available for Cotton Belt states from Arizona through the Southeast. All will be transgenic.

One will be a stripper variety, Phy 125 RF.

Another will be a New Mexico Acala, 1517-99W with the Widestrike gene in it.

There will be 11 varieties specifically targeted for picker areas from Arizona east. They are: Phy 310R, Phy 410R, Phy 415RF, Phy 510R, Phy 440W, Phy 370WR, Phy 470WR, Phy 480WR, Phy 475 WRF and Phy 485 WRF.

Canfield said the numbering reflects the maturity ratings of the cotton with 300 varieties considered early maturity, 400 medium maturity, and 500 full-season varieties.

Phytogen was founded in 1980 by the J.G. Boswell, the largest cotton farming operation in the United States. Boswell/Phytogen formed a joint venture with Mycogen, an affiliate of Dow AgroSciences, in 1998.

Phytogen glyphosate-resistant cottons are licensed from Monsanto.

The insect protection Widestrike technology was developed by Dow AgroSciences. It was introduced into the market this season after gaining Environmental Protection Agency registration.

Almost incomprehensible: Mississippi, Louisiana forests start long road to recovery

Even before the full scope of devastation was known, the Mississippi timber industry knew Katrina had dealt it a dirty hand: trees snapped in half, branches strewn and kindling debris waiting for a spark to turn the whole thing into an inferno. Even to a forester, the sorry scene is “almost incomprehensible,” said Kent Grizzard, a spokesman at the Mississippi Forestry Commission.

The preliminary numbers show 1.3 million acres of Mississippi commercial timber has been damaged.

“On timber damage, we look at two classifications. One is saw timber — trees that are large enough to provide lumber and building materials. We had 3.2 billion board feet of saw timber damage. That includes pine and hardwood.”

From that amount of board feet, 214,000 average-sized houses could be built.

The second category is cords (a cord typically measures 4 feet high, 4 feet wide, 8 feet long) — pulpwood. Mississippi sustained damage to 14.6 million cords of pulpwood.

“Everyone knows the dimensions of a football field. Well, you could take all the cords damaged and fill 9,700 football fields. Think about that.”

All together, the commercial value of the damaged timber is $1.3 billion.

The damage estimate also included urban forests. All told, 2.7 million trees in 181 Mississippi communities were damaged — an impact of $1.1 billion.

“Combining the commercial forest damage and the economic impact of damaged trees in urban areas equals $2.4 billion in losses.”

Katrina was no gentler to Louisiana forests. Damage from the hurricane is estimated at 3 billion board feet of timber with an estimated value of around $610 million. About 65 percent of that total is softwood with the remainder in hardwood.

“This is a hardship on the landowners, the loggers and the markets,” said Janet Tompkins with the Louisiana Forestry Association. “We'll be dealing with the repercussions for the next 15 years or more.”

I-55 runs north/south through Louisiana. Most of the forest damage is east of I-55. The three hardest hit parishes are St. Tammany, Washington and Tangipahoa.

Paper mills in the area lost power and employees for about a week after the hurricane. Back running now, the mills are accepting wood.

“One bad part of this is most of the market was already full prior to the storm,” said Tompkins. “That's just because of the timing. At this time of year, wood is brought in before it begins getting too wet.”

Salvage operations — and timber recovery task forces — are up and running in both states. The clock is ticking because the longer the timber is left uncollected, the more chance of degeneration and lessening value. As it has the greatest value, the priority is to pick up anything that can be salvaged as saw timber.

But even that's not a sure thing, said Tompkins. “I've talked to a mill that said a lot of the salvaged wood looks fine for saw timber but it's not. There's a lot being culled. Once they begin milling it, it's not holding up as saw timber.”

As a result, much of the saw timber will be devalued down to pulpwood. And prices on pulpwood are dropping.

In Louisiana, to accommodate the massive amount of salvaged timber, storage areas are being set up. Logging and trucking permits are also being expedited to try and get as much downed timber picked up as possible.

There is yet another obstacle, however. “Some people from outside the damaged areas want to go in and help cut and salvage,” said Tompkins. “But they should know there are no hotel rooms, no campgrounds, and no empty houses. That's certainly a problem for anyone wanting to go in there and work.”

“Obviously, we want to salvage as much as possible,” said Grizzard. “A task force has banded together and consists of private forests, industries, state and federal agencies and an assortment of other people who have interests in recovering as much of this damaged timber as possible. The force is currently developing the strategy of how to go about that.

“Debris removal is another aspect of this. All the debris must be collected and moved out of communities in a safe manner.”

How long before the forests could be back in shape?

“It's too early for me to say,” said Grizzard. “This hurricane has replaced everything else in the record books. Look back at Hurricane Ivan last year. It was very destructive but nothing close to Katrina. A year after Ivan, Alabama is still dealing with salvage and debris issues. So Mississippi will be in the recovery business for at least several years.

“We had an ice storm back in 1994 — a broad disaster that affected 26 counties in north Mississippi. We were involved with the effects of that for three years. I imagine this hurricane will take longer to deal with.”

Although company land was hit, too, the majority of the forests hurt in Louisiana are on private land. For the landowners who had their savings account “on the stump, we'll have to show them it's worthwhile to go back in, clear the land and begin planting again,” said Tompkins.

“In Louisiana, we haven't had a bad hurricane in a while. We have had tornados. The hurricane damage I've seen isn't as twisted as when a tornado comes through…There is a variety of damage. Many trees are broken off. The larger trees sustained the most damage along with plantations that were recently thinned. The younger plantations that haven't been thinned made out a little better.”

One of the biggest priorities will be to get the land reforested, said Tompkins. In the short-term, “we'll have a glut of wood on the market. But then, for the next 15 years, we'll be nurturing another crop of trees.”

On top of all the cleanup issues, both states now face a significant wildfire threat. Grizzard said the debris in the woods is a spark away from catastrophe.

“We're very concerned about people burning debris piles. That could allow fire to jump into the woods. There are burn bans in 30 Mississippi counties — most in the south. The burn ban has been driven by debris and dry weather conditions. The hurricane-supplied fuel — limbs and broken trees — is thick.

“We've got veteran foresters who've never seen such forest fuel out there…Many folks don't seem to understand how serious this threat is.”


e-mail: dbennett@primediabusiness.com.

Arkansas court upholds eradication effort

The Arkansas Supreme Court ruled unanimously Sept. 22 that farmers in the state can be forced into the boll weevil eradication effort.

The case was brought to the court by some 60 cotton farmers from northeast Arkansas' Mississippi and east Craighead counties. The group must now decide whether to accept the ruling or appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Prior to the lawsuit, farmers in the “Northeast Delta Zone” said their annual boll weevil control costs weren't close to the Arkansas Plant Board's proposed assessment of $8 per acre. In explaining the rejection of four eradication referendums, many said they spent less than $2 per acre controlling boll weevils annually.

In 2003, the Plant Board forced the zone's participation, explaining the investment made by neighboring farmers was threatened by the holdouts. Weevils in the holdout zone, officials said, could migrate to cotton-farming areas already in the program. Plus, spraying “buffer” areas around the northeast zone had become increasingly problematic and expensive.

Once forced into the program, the farmers filed suit against the Plant Board, claiming without a passed referendum the assessment was an illegal tax. Pulaski County Circuit Judge James Moody Jr. disagreed. Under the Boll Weevil Suppression Eradication Act of 1991, Moody said, the Plant Board could impose the program whether a referendum passed or not.

In a unanimous decision authored by Justice Donald L. Corbin, Arkansas' highest court agreed with Moody: under the 1991 act, the Plant Board has the power to force the program regardless of referendum results.

“The statutes at issue plainly authorize the (Arkansas Plant) Board to take the action it took in this case,” Corbin wrote.

“There is simply nothing on the face of the act itself tending to limit the board's authority in requiring mandatory participation in an eradication program, including cost-sharing, to such instances in which a program has already been approved by growers in the affected zone. Had the Legislature wished to place such a limitation on the board's power, it could easily have done so…

“Here, the assessments are only charged to those persons who will directly benefit from the eradication program, namely the cotton growers in the eradication zone.”


e-mail: dbennett@primediabusiness.com

Herbicide options to control ryegrass in wheat

Due to heavy rains, low price and high input costs, wheat acres were significantly down across Arkansas and much of the South last year. For many, the price of diesel and fertilizer may limit wheat acres again this year.

This has made for a slow launch of Osprey, the new Bayer herbicide for wheat. Prior to last year, Hoelon-resistant ryegrass acres had been on a steady increase in Arkansas for the past decade or so. However, with the decline in wheat acres, the incidence of new fields with resistance has also declined.

If you are one of the many who will not be growing any wheat this year, I strongly suggest taking this opportunity to get rid of as many flushes of ryegrass as you can germinate on your fallow wheat ground.

It is important to remember that glyphosate is generally very good on ryegrass from emergence through about 2-4 tillers in the fall. However, once it goes reproductive in the spring and gets some size on it, it can get hard to kill.

Keep a late-fall application of glyphosate in mind for your fallow wheat ground. For that matter, you may want to consider this or at the very least an extremely early spring burndown for ryegrass on all your acres with ryegrass.

If ryegrass gets too big for glyphosate your next best option is probably tillage.

At my Hoelon-resistant ryegrass location, it often takes two applications of glyphosate for season-long control of ryegrass in the fallow areas.

This may be the case on some farms as well. However, keep in mind that most ryegrass seed germinates in the first season after it is produced. Just one year of fallow can result in as much as 90 percent ryegrass control in the following crop.

For those of you who are growing wheat and have Hoelon-resistant ryegrass, this may be a good time to consider trying the new product Osprey.

In our trials, Osprey applied at 4.75 ounces per acre with both a 0.5 percent nonionic surfactant and 1.5 pints per acre of 32 percent nitrogen or 1 percent MSO as an adjuvant has consistently provided over 90 percent control of both Hoelon-resistant and susceptible ryegrass. The Osprey label includes a lower rate for wild oat control; however, in our work, 4.75 ounces were needed for consistent control of ryegrass.

In addition to ryegrass, Osprey will suppress or control many broadleaf weeds, including vetch, shepherdspurse, mustards, henbit and buttercup. It is an excellent wild oat material. There are few rotational restrictions to Osprey and for all intents and purposes it should be considered a material with post activity only.

Osprey is labeled to be rain-fast in four hours. Osprey should be applied in the fall to actively growing ryegrass somewhere between the four-leaf and two-tiller growth stage. Early control of ryegrass is essential to maintain maximum wheat yields. However, Osprey has no residual activity, so a single well-timed postemergence application is needed.

In circumstances where a fall application is missed, however, it will be possible to apply Osprey until just prior to wheat jointing. So, salvage ryegrass applications are labeled, but I recommend you get it under control before then.

One advantage that Osprey has over Hoelon is that you can tank-mix Osprey with several broadleaf herbicides without fear of antagonism. The label restricts tank-mixes with Clarity, 2,4-D, and Sencor. However, Harmony Extra, Express, Finesse and others are approved. We have observed no antagonism in our trials over the past three years.

In those fields that have both Hoelon-resistant ryegrass and wild garlic, it will probably be necessary to make two applications, one for ryegrass in the fall and one for garlic in the spring, because the treatment windows do not match up well.

Finesse herbicide has been an option in Arkansas for Hoelon-resistant ryegrass control; however rotational crops are serious concerns. You must follow Finesse-treated wheat with STS soybeans. Another problem with using Finesse is that it is applied pre-emergence and requires immediate rainfall for good activity on ryegrass. When rainfall occurs, control of ryegrass is excellent with Finesse. When rainfall is delayed, ryegrass control is inadequate.

It is my understanding that the cost of 4.75 ounces per acre of Osprey will be set similar to 1.33 pints of Hoelon. The cost of Finesse is significantly less. One option on Hoelon-resistant acres would be to use Finesse and see if you get a rain before you invest in Osprey.

Due to Osprey's lack of residual, Hoelon is probably still the best option for ryegrass control if the ryegrass is not resistant. Of course, you may want to consider a rotation to Osprey or Finesse if you have used Hoelon for several years in a row to prevent the buildup of Hoelon-resistant ryegrass on your farm.


Bob Scott is the University of Arkansas Extension weed specialist. e-mail: bscott@uaex.edu

Senate ag bill passes without battle over limits

The Senate passed a $100.2 billion spending bill for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration with considerably less heartburn than some observers anticipated.

The potential for gastric distress was reduced when Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, apparently decided not to introduce an amendment requiring stricter payment limits on farm program payments.

Grassley's no-show came after a group of 16 farm and farm-related organizations called on Senate leaders to reject any attempts to “substantially alter” the 2002 farm bill as the Senate began deliberations on the agricultural appropriations bill. The House passed its version of the bill in July.

The groups, which include the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Cotton Council, sent letters to Sens. Thad Cochran, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Robert Bennett, chairman of the committee's Agricultural Appropriations subcommittee, expressing their concerns about the bill.

The Senate began debate on the $100.2 billion 2006 appropriations bill on Sept. 19 and passed it Sept. 21.

“We know you will continue to be under significant pressure to fund the many important provisions that should be included in the fiscal 2006 agriculture appropriations bill,” the letter said. “We also understand the damage done by Hurricane Katrina and persistent drought places further demands on limited resources.

“However, we are concerned that any significant modification of the balance of funding for production agriculture, conservation, risk management, nutrition, and export promotion programs in FSRIA '02 will undermine the effectiveness of the law, which has served U.S. agriculture and related industries well. So well in fact, that none of our organizations have supported or called for major modification since its enactment in 2002.” (FSRIA stands for Farm Security and Rural Investment Act.)

The groups noted that earlier this year they urged the respective budget committees not to include specific reconciliation instructions in the final budget resolution, which would require specific changes in the latest farm law.

“We also urged the committees to adequately fund discretionary spending so that you and your colleagues can fund important research, conservation, risk management and marketing programs,” the letter said.

The groups said they had worked diligently with Congress and the Bush administration to urge development of new, more effective farm policy, which complied with budget and international trade obligations, such as the WTO rules.

“Congress responded by passing a farm bill that addresses the stability of our production base, protects our important natural resources, and enhances nutrition and food assistance programs for our citizens,” the letter said.

“In summary, the 2002 farm law, which was thoroughly debated for over two years, addresses many of the major problems faced by America's farmers and ranchers, rural businesses, rural communities and our neediest citizens. We strongly oppose any substantial changes to the priorities and programs embodied in the 2002 farm bill and ask you and your colleagues to do likewise.”

The letter writers said American farmers and ranchers “need a predictable, stable farm policy to continue to make responsible planting and marketing decisions. We look forward to working with you and your colleagues in support of a fiscal 2006 agriculture appropriations measure which will complement and enhance the effectiveness of our existing farm law.”

The letter appeared to mirror what farmers and farm organizations have been telling Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns and other USDA officials at Farm Bill Forums around the country since July.

Farmers attending each of the 22 listening sessions held to date have said they like the provisions of the current farm bill, although some in the Midwestern states have said they preferred stronger conservation provisions and tighter payment limits.

Other groups signing the letter included: Independent Community Bankers Association, American Soybean Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, Farm Credit Council, National Sorghum Producers, National Corn Growers Association, USA Rice Federation, U.S. Rice Producers, Southern Peanut Farmers Federation, American Sugar Alliance, Florida Peanut Producers Association and Western Peanut Growers.

In west Tennessee: Resistant pigweed found

Glyphosate-tolerant Palmer pigweed has been found in west Tennessee's Lauderdale and Crockett counties. The announcement comes on the heels of a similar finding in Georgia pigweed earlier this summer.

“The fields were in continuous, Roundup Ready cotton for many years — at least from the late 1990s on,” Larry Steckel, Tennessee Extension weed scientist, said Sept. 23. “Roundup was the primary weed control on them although there have been some post-directed chemistries on them as well.”

Were rates and sprayings properly applied? “To my knowledge, correct, full-label rates were used. I'm very familiar with the farmers involved. They're very good at growing crops and don't cut rates. I'm confident this wasn't human error.

“Nowadays, we're putting Roundup on everything. It's led to unprecedented selection pressure. We were bound to find genes that could handle the chemistry.”

Called to the fields in 2004, Steckel said it was immediately evident something wasn't right. “The way it looked — live pigweeds side-by-side with dead pigweeds at the same height — raised a red flag with me. When I checked the fields, pigweed was all that wasn't being controlled. My first thought was, ‘Well, this could be the real deal.’”

There were plenty of pigweed in both fields. However, that alone didn't cause Steckel much worry. “Western Tennessee is covered up with Palmer pigweed. It isn't uncommon to see fields with a bunch of it. I get called to a lot of fields on suspicious weeds. After investigating, most of the time the escapes are due to rain after application, surfactant issues or something else. But none of that applied here.”

This past spring, Steckel and colleagues decided to put out a number of trials: two in the questionable fields and two placed randomly in the counties. Normally, Palmer pigweed less than 6 inches tall can be “smoked” with a half rate of glyphosate, said Steckel.

“So in these tests, we looked at a half-rate, a full rate, a double rate and a 4X rate. At the two random sites, we got complete control on everything with the low rates.”

In the two suspect fields that wasn't the case. “At the half-rate of Roundup WeatherMax, control was around 50 percent. At the full rate (22 ounces), control was around 80 percent. At the 44-ounce rate, we still had some escapes. At the 4X rate (88 ounces), everything was killed.”

Tom Mueller coordinated greenhouse and laboratory studies of the tolerant pigweed populations. “In some ways the Palmer pigweed appears to be similar to glyphosate-tolerant horseweed (marestail),” said Mueller in a press release. “All the treated Palmer pigweed plants look the same for two or three days after application; they all wilt and turn yellow. However, at about four days after spraying, the tolerant plants stop wilting and start new growth from lateral buds. Our preliminary laboratory analysis indicates the mechanism of action, or how the plant tolerates the glyphosate, appears to be the same in the Palmer pigweed and in the glyphosate-tolerant horseweed.”

In light of the test results, what are Steckel's recommendations?

“First, producers need to get more chemistry in the tank, more modes of action. And that's already been happening.

“I just did an informal survey of some retailers and, in the last year, they believe around 90 percent of our cotton had a pre-emerge (herbicide) put on. Primarily, the reason for that was control of glyphosate-resistant horseweed.

“Dual over-the-top of cotton postemergence will be a terrific tool. We'll be preaching that.

“Most importantly, Roundup rates shouldn't be cut. Producers must use the full rate and get good coverage.”

Could the finding impact no-till acres?

“With glyphosate-resistant horseweed we've already seen a reduction in no-till acres. However, as successful as we've been with using pre-emerge herbicides, I think we'll see no-till acres rebound — especially when you consider the cost of diesel. Even with this new threat, I see that happening.”


e-mail: dbennett@primediabusiness.com

Pioneer announces new soybean varieties, traits

Pioneer research scientist Mark Hood has high expectations for a new herbicide-resistant soybean technology which could be on the market by 2010. “It will be a clean event that will not have any yield drag. In fact, we anticipate a yield bump when the lines come out.”

According to Hood, Pioneer “is working on various approaches to the new herbicide technology. We are on a timeframe for approval sometime in the next few years.”

Hood said he could not comment further on the technology, which was announced at a field day celebrating Pioneer's new West Memphis Research Center in Proctor, Ark.

The facility was moved from Greenville, Miss., in part to allow the company to focus more on Group 4 soybeans. Hood said Group 4s are the cornerstone of the early soybean production system developed by retired USDA Agricultural Research Service soybean agronomist Larry Heatherly.

“No question, the popularity of the early soybean production system has made our soybean breeding program earlier. The majority of this program selects varieties in Group 4 and Group 5.

Pioneer field sales agronomist William Johnson noted that one advantage of the early soybean production system is that with earlier soybeans, “pod filling occurs during periods of heavier rainfall, saving most growers one or two irrigations.” Johnson and fellow field sales agronomist Roger Gipson have implemented a study of planting dates to determine the benefits of the system in reduced pumping costs and increased yields.

“At the same time, soybean producers need the disease and insect resistance characteristics,” Hood noted. “While Group 4s can simply outrun many disease problems, there are still plenty of opportunities to improve resistance to soybean cyst nematode, brown stem rot, Phytophthora root rot, white mold, sclerotenia and sudden death syndrome.”

Pioneer hopes to bring these characteristics to the market sooner than usual with a marker-assisted selection process. “When we cross a resistant line with a susceptible line, we use our markers to pull only those lines out that are resistant. Then we are able to spend our yield-testing resources on lines that have the packages we want.”

The company also announced five new soybean varieties. Descriptions are provided by the company:

95M81 RR — (5.8 maturity) Excellent shattering rating coupled with outstanding yield potential. Outstanding tolerance to frogeye leaf spot and southern root-knot nematode. Susceptible to soybean cyst nematode.

95M50 RR, STS — (5.5 maturity) Exceptional yield potential for maturity. Excellent resistance to southern root-knot nematode. Resistant to Race 3 of soybean cyst nematode. Very good tolerance to frogeye leaf spot.

95M30 RR — (5.3 maturity) Superb yield potential and harvest standability. Good southern root-knot nematode and stem canker resistance. Excellent tolerance to frogeye leaf spot. Outstanding soybean cyst nematode Race 3 resistance.

94M80 RR — (4.8 maturity) Superior yield potential and anti-shattering characteristics. Very good soybean cyst nematode Race 3 resistance. Favorable frogeye leaf spot tolerance. Outstanding sudden death syndrome tolerance.

94M50 RR — (4.5 maturity) Exceptional yield potential. Outstanding anti-shattering characteristics. Excellent tolerance to frogeye leaf spot and superb resistance to Race 3, soybean cyst nematode.