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Weed control 2009 major test for Mid-South farmers

Boy, what a year! I thought last year was the year of all years that everyone wanted to get behind them. In many ways this year has been worse.

We have not had the craziness in fuel and fertilizer prices of last year, but who can remember a weather year like this one? You could not get the crop in and now cannot get it mature and get it out.

I am an optimist on most things and felt if we could get a hot September and dodge the hurricanes we still had a chance for a good crop. Heck, you take a hot August for granted and we didn't even get that — much less a hot September.

Making weed control recommendations is what I do and for the most part that comes relatively easy for me. The hard part of my job has always been trying to share in the farmer's frustrations. It takes a unique individual to be a farmer and very few folks outside of agriculture realize that or have any appreciation for it.

There is no doubt in my mind that I simply could not do it. The stress level would wipe me out in one crop year. I never cease to be amazed at how most farmers remain calm (at least on the outside) through the storm and find a way to make lemonade out of lemons.

Those who just seem to see a farmer as someone the government is “throwing money at” need to get out in the countryside and look at what our farmers are trying to deal with right now and try to visualize having their livelihood tied up in it.

I get quite a few calls from folks asking me what I am hearing on rice yields. In most cases it is from someone who is disappointed in theirs and wanting to know if they are unique or if everyone else is in the same shape. That is another way of asking, “Was it my fault or due to factors beyond my control?”

The rice yields I have heard so far seem to be pretty much “all over the board,” even from field to field on the same farm. It would seem that the rains during the flowering period took their toll in a lot of fields. The consistent comment I have heard is, “It didn't cut as good as it looked due to a lot of blanks.”

This too shall pass — there is no other choice. We will get the crop out and hopefully everyone will have enough good fields to pull through. Hang in there!

Back to my topic of pigweed control — I am going to switch from conventional soybeans to Roundup Ready soybeans and then wind up the series on LibertyLink soybeans.

Every year we attend a tractor sale in northern Indiana on Labor Day weekend. Perhaps I just have not been as observant as I should have been in the past, but it sure seemed like Palmer pigweeds were present in soybean fields further north than I have seen in the past.

It also seemed as though the soybean crop in general had a more weedy appearance than in previous years — all the way up through the Midwest. That is not meant to be a “the sky is falling” statement or meant to insinuate all those weeds were glyphosate resistant. I am sure farmers up there had a tough time getting things done timely this year just as farmers in the Mid-South did.

However, it was an interesting observation, and I believe the glyphosate resistance issue is much bigger than a lot of folks think or want to believe.

The first thing I will say about controlling glyphosate resistant Palmer pigweed in Roundup Ready soybeans is go back and read everything I wrote about controlling them in conventional soybeans. While the glyphosate in a Roundup Ready program may make a contribution controlling other weed species or even pigweeds that may not be resistant, the resistant weeds must be controlled with a conventional herbicide program.

If you choose not to use an aggressive soil residual program — or it does not work — and you wait until the first glyphosate treatment fails before you add something like Flexstar, then it is pretty much over. I will start here next week and look at the programs in more detail.

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