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Weed control will be more challenging in next decade, requiring a combination of tools and strategies.

Fran O'Leary, Wisconsin Agriculturist Editor

September 4, 2019

2 Min Read
Brad Wade, Bryan Young and Rick Van Genderen at Farm Progress Show
CONTROLLING WEEDS: Participating in a panel discussion at the Farm Progress Show about controlling weeds were Brad Wade (left), corn and soybean grower; Bryan Young, Purdue weed science professor; and Rick Van Genderen, BASF.

Corn and soybean growers will need to employ a variety of tools to control weeds during the next several years, according to a panel discussing weed control Aug. 28 at the Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Ill.

Participating in the panel discussion on the future of weed control in corn and soybeans were Brad Wade, Illinois corn and soybean grower; Bryan Young, Purdue University weed science professor; and Rick Van Genderen, BASF global lead, soy and corn seed and trait strategy.

Wade said growers are in a tough spot. “Weed control is always changing,” he explained. “As a farmer, we have to be adaptable and try new things when they become available.”

Young echoed Wade’s comments. “We’re not going to have many new herbicides between now and 2025,” Young said. “We need to learn to work with what we have.”

Van Genderen advised farmers to manage weeds with the tools that are available now.

“The approval of trait technologies in China and the EU [European Union] takes five to seven years,” he said. “We have some chemicals in the pipeline that will be introduced with the trait, but that will take time.”

In the meantime, Van Genderen said farmers need to come up with a long-term strategy to control weeds. Young said weed management going forward will require stewardship.

“We should adapt a zero tolerance for weeds going to seed,” Young said. He suggested farmers employ a combination of tools to control weeds, including traits, chemicals and nonchemical means such as:

  • using unmanned aerial vehicles to do spot applications of chemicals

  • increasing crop rotation

  • switching from planting soybeans in 30-inch rows to narrower rows

  • doing some cultivation

“You have to manage across your two- or three-year crop rotation,” Young said. “Fortunately, we have stacked traits that we need to combine with cultural practices to give us flexibility. Those are some things we can do. Stacked traits make things easier.”

The panel was asked what is one or two of the most important things growers need to do now.

Wade said the most important thing to do is decide who is going to be on your management team. “It’s going to require more than one meeting,” he said. “The second thing is, don’t waste time this fall. We’ve been behind this whole growing season. We don’t want to be scrambling to control weeds next spring.”

Van Genderen said farmers need to employ multiple tools in the same year to control weeds. “You may need to use different strategies to control weeds in problem fields,” he said.

Young cautioned that growers will see more weeds this year, especially in areas that experienced prevented planting.

“Be aware of what weeds you see this fall and what field you take the combine into next,” he said. “Think about the weed seed this year and what the weeds are going to do next year.”

About the Author(s)

Fran O'Leary

Wisconsin Agriculturist Editor

Even though Fran was born and raised on a farm in Illinois, she has spent most of her life in Wisconsin. She moved to the state when she was 18 years old and later graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater with a bachelor's degree in journalism.

Fran has 25 years of experience writing, editing and taking pictures. Before becoming editor of the Wisconsin Agriculturist in 2003, she worked at Johnson Hill Press in Fort Atkinson as a writer and editor of farm business publications and at the Janesville Gazette in Janesville as farm editor and feature writer. Later, she signed on as a public relations associate at Bader Rutter in Brookfield, and served as managing editor and farm editor at The Reporter, a daily newspaper in Fond du Lac.

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