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Workshop to address barnyardgrass in Mid-South crops

Jason Norsworthy
<p><em>JASON NORSWORTHY CHECKS greenhouse-grown barnyardgrass near his Fayetteville, Ark., office. The weed will be the focus of the Roy J. Smith Barnyardgrass Workshop on March 9 in Stuttgart, Ark.</em></p>
Barnyardgrass threatens, hampers Mid-South crops. Roy J. Smith Barnyardgrass Workshop to address all issues surrounding the weed. Workshop to be held in Stuttgart, Ark., on March 9.

A few years back, with herbicide-resistant pigweeds rampaging through Mid-South row crops, Arkansas weed scientists put together the “Pigposium.” The overwhelming positive response to the pigweed-centric workshop proved the concept.

Now it is time to address the next weed that threatens Mid-South crops: barnyardgrass. Barnyardgrass management in all Mid-South crops will be the focus of a workshop to be held at the Grand Prairie Center in Stuttgart, Arkansas, on March 9.

This will be a joint venture between the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and Delta Farm Press. Funding from the Southern IPM Program will make this workshop possible. 

“We’re actually going to call this the ‘Roy J. Smith Barnyardgrass Workshop,’” says Jason Norsworthy, University of Arkansas weed scientist. “That may not mean much too many folks, but Dr. Smith was a USDA weed scientist who brought herbicides into Mid-South rice. He’s one of the pioneers who first worked with propanil in rice and showed that it had value for the crop.”

The focus of this workshop is to provide a better understanding of what’s currently happening with barnyardgrass around the Mid-South. “Barnyardgrass is the second-most problematic weed -- second only to Palmer pigweed -- if you look across all Mid-South crops. In rice, it’s the biggest weed management challenge that growers face today.”

Barnyardgrass has a tendency to develop herbicide resistance and the workshop will provide an opportunity for growers and consultants to gather all current knowledge on the weed in a single setting. “There are some exciting things that are happening and there’s some information growers need to be aware of. Why don’t we have glyphosate resistance in barnyardgrass? What will happen if we continue on our current path? How do we prevent the development of glyphosate-resistant barnyardgrass?”

With the Xtend and Enlist technologies coming soon, there will be higher risk for glyphosate-resistance to develop in barnyardgrass if proper steps are not taken, warns Norsworthy. Strategies to properly manage barnyardgrass in crops having these traits will be discussed.

Ford Baldwin, well-known weed expert and Delta Farm Press columnist, will kick off the meeting with a brief history of Roy J. Smith’s contributions to Mid-South agriculture. Smith’s “impact on weed management can’t be understated,” says Norsworthy.

Daniel Stephenson, with the LSU AgCenter, will talk about the need to understand the biology of barnyardgrass and how we’ll use that information to better manage it.

Bob Scott, Arkansas weed scientist and Delta Farm Press contributor, will talk about the current status of herbicide resistance in barnyardgrass. What are the herbicides to which it has developed resistance?  What are the hot-spots for resistance in the Mid-South?

Future risks

Muthu Bagavathiannan, with Texas A&M University, will discuss the future risks of resistance developing based on modeling work he conducted with Norsworthy. “He will share some recent research from northeast Arkansas that looks at the impact of crop rotation and herbicide programs on the buildup of resistance to Newpath and other similar herbicides. Growers will leave with an appreciation of how best to manage current herbicide resistance issues.”

Jason Bond, with Mississippi State University, will speak on the topic of non-chemical approaches that growers can use to improve barnyardgrass control in various crops. Bond will explore the value of narrow row spacing, increased seeding rates, use of cover crops, and other strategies that reduce barnyardgrass emergence or seed bank additions.

“I’ll speak on what’s in the pipeline for rice,” says Norsworthy. “What’s coming? What value will the new chemistries and technologies bring in the fight against barnyardgrass? There are some exciting things that I hope to discuss -- some things that haven’t been discussed publicly in the Mid-South before.”

Norsworthy is careful to say the workshop will be about more than just barnyardgrass management in rice. Tom Barber, Arkansas weed scientist, “will talk collectively about all the crops in the Mid-South and the best strategies for each in managing barnyardgrass. What’s the best approach to barnyardgrass management in cotton and soybean with the new Xtend and Enlist technologies?  What are the most up-to-date university recommendations?”

The meeting will wrap up with a panel discussion with consultants, farmers and an academic, or two.  “They will talk about their current battle against barnyardgrass -- what they are doing right and some things that they learned during this workshop.”

Several companies have already pledged to donate door prizes for the event. 

“I suspect there will be a lot of Arkansans at the meeting, but I hope farmers from all over the Mid-South come. That’s because based on recent surveys that my colleagues and I have conducted in cotton, soybean, and rice across the Mid-South, the number one grass weed in these crops continues to be barnyardgrass.”

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