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Study: Herbicides benefit corn, soybean growers to tune of $43 billion annually

Study: Herbicides benefit corn, soybean growers to tune of $43 billion annually

Weed Science Society of America gathered data from studies done over seven years in the United States and Canada.

A team of experts with the Weed Science Society of America found that in the United States and Canada about half of corn and soybeans would be lost to weeds if farmers were forced to eliminate herbicides and other control techniques, costing about $43 billion annually.

Related: Palmer amaranth is most troublesome weed in the U.S.

If corn and soybean farmers were forced to eliminate herbicides, about half the crop would be lost, costing about $43 billion annually. (Photo: maljalen/Thinkstock)

“It’s an astonishing number and indicates the significant threat weeds present to crop production,” says Anita Dille, Ph.D., of Kansas State University and chair of the WSSA Weed Loss Committee.  “It also drives home the importance of taking steps to mitigate the development of herbicide resistance.  When a single herbicide is used repeatedly to the exclusion of other controls, weeds can become resistant and can grow unchecked.” 

To develop their crop loss estimates, Dille and her team gathered data from weed control studies conducted over a seven-year period.  They found an average yield loss of 52% in corn and 49.5% in soybeans when all weed control practices were eliminated. To determine the financial value of the crop-loss estimates, the committee used average commodity prices published by Statistics Canada and by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

The committee focused its work on corn and soybean production due to the prominence of both crops in North America. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the United States ranks first in the world for both soybean and corn production, while Canada ranks 7th and 11th, respectively. Together the two crops are grown on about 170 million acres across the two countries.

Related: Update your weed knowledge

Further data from the WSSA crop-loss study is available at Details also will be published in an upcoming edition of the WSSA journal Weed Technology.  Further information on herbicide resistance is available at

Source: Weed Science Society of America

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