Resistant Weed Management: A Dickens Of A Dilemma For Growers

Everyone knows the famous opening line to Charles Dickens’ classic A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” In this lead, Dickens was setting the stage for his readers to understand that life in 19th century England could be at polar opposites depending upon the circumstances for the individual character.

I was reminded of this quote – unfortunately as it turns out – during the recent Strategies to Manage Herbicide-Resistant Weeds summit, held in Washington, DC. Much of the early part of this event featured speakers from the university level who specialize in weed research. For the most part, they all pointed out that growers themselves were partly to blame for the rapid rise of resistant weeds by following the same control practices year-after-year, allowing the weeds to quickly adapt. Their advice was simple: “Don’t do the same thing over and over or you are going to have resistant-weed populations.”

However, according to a few of the growers that spoke out at the event, they know this is the way to control the spread of resistant weeds. But following these practices is often outweighed by the need for profit. And like Dickens’ opening quote, this scenario can play out in both the best of times and the worst of times.

In the best of times, the desire for more profit can work against following best management practices (BMP) for weed control. Consider the tale of this Illinois grower: “Last year, we had 55 inches of rain in our area in the spring, so I couldn’t have any spraying done in my fields until July 5. By then, the horseweed in my corn fields was five feet tall. Now I know that spraying horseweed this tall with glyphosate won’t do much, but it will do something. In the end, the weeds didn’t die out completely, but I still ended up with 100 bushels per acre in the fall. I know this probably wasn’t the right thing to do from a weed control standpoint, but if I had scrapped that field, I would have taken hundreds of dollars out of my pocket.”

In the worst of times, BMP is even tougher for growers. “Say to do proper weed control costs me $18 per acre,” said an Iowa grower. “When commodity prices are high like right now, and I’m making $140 profit per acre, investing $18 of that back into good weed control is no big deal. But if commodity prices fall back to where they were a few years ago, $18 profit per acre is all I’ll be making. In those conditions, do I want to risk 100% of my profits today to prevent a problem that might happen tomorrow?”

It’s clear from these comments that the education message on BMP for weed control is getting through to the marketplace. But getting everyone to follow this advice to prevent resistant weeds when balanced with making a living is still a Dickens of a decision for most.

Leave a Reply

Eric Sfiligoj Stories

Corn Field
Eric SfiligojFacing Ag Industry Challenges
September 26, 2016
At the 2016 annual Mid America CropLife Association (MACA) meeting in September, a pair of crop protection company representatives discussed Read More
Potash Agrium
Eric SfiligojBig Fertilizer Merger In The Works
September 12, 2016
If you are a fan of consolidation in agriculture, 2016 has been a banner year so far. Not only are Read More
Eric SfiligojThis Column Is Terrible
September 6, 2016
Does the negative always trump the positive in getting a reader’s attention? It would seem so based upon the evidence. Read More
MAGIE 2015 Overview
Eric SfiligojThe Read From MAGIE
August 29, 2016
As I write this column, I’ve just returned from the annual Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) in Bloomington, IL. Being Read More
Trending Articles
Corn Field
Eric SfiligojFacing Ag Industry Challenges
September 26, 2016
At the 2016 annual Mid America CropLife Association (MACA) meeting in September, a pair of crop protection company representatives discussed Read More
Bayer Monsanto
Crop InputsBayer-Monsanto Mega-Merger: 6 Things You Need To Know
September 14, 2016
Mega mergers have become almost routine in the agricultural industry. Right on the heels of Monday’s news that fertilizer giants Potash Read More
Potash Corp Agrium
Crop InputsAgrium, Potash Corp To Merge To Create $36 Billion Company
September 12, 2016
Canada’s Agrium Inc. and Potash Corp of Saskatchewan Inc. have agreed to combine in a deal that would create a Read More
Osage Co-op Elevator Osage, IA Finished Building
OpinionAre We Crazy?
September 8, 2016
At some point in the first few months of my employment here at CropLife® magazine, I started getting curious about Read More
ManagementMAGIE 2016 Highlights and Deere Anti-Trust
September 1, 2016
CropLife Editor Eric Sfiligoj discusses the recent Midwest AG Industries Exposition and the Department of Justice’s objection to John Deere Read More
ASMARK 2016 Retailers Live! Tour - CPS
CropLife 100CPS Acquires Texas Retail Operation
August 23, 2016
Crop Production Services (CPS) has acquired the assets of Larry’s Chemical and Spray, Inc., for an undisclosed amount in an Read More
Latest News
Growmark FS Outlet
Industry NewsGROWMARK To Purchase Suncor’s Share Of UPI
September 26, 2016
GROWMARK and Suncor have reached an agreement in which GROWMARK will purchase Suncor’s 50% interest in UPI, Inc. in Ontario, Read More
Corn Field
Eric SfiligojFacing Ag Industry Challenges
September 26, 2016
At the 2016 annual Mid America CropLife Association (MACA) meeting in September, a pair of crop protection company representatives discussed Read More
Syngenta Seedcare Institute
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Opens New North America Seedcare Institute In …
September 23, 2016
Syngenta unveiled its new Seedcare Institute in Stanton, MN, during a recent grand opening celebration. More than 150 industry leaders, Read More
StewardshipMonsanto Invests $1.6 Million In System To Quantify Gre…
September 23, 2016
The USDA – Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) recently awarded the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and its Soil Health Read More
Pipe rack
LegislationCourt Sides With Ag Retailers On PSM
September 23, 2016
The D.C. Court of Appeals has ruled the Occupational Safety and Health Administration violated the Occupational Safety and Health Act when Read More
ManagementPacific Coast Fertilizer Announces Interest In Longview…
September 22, 2016
Pacific Coast Fertilizer LP (PCF) announced at the Cowlitz Economic Development Council board of directors meeting its interest in developing Read More
Young corn plants in soil
UncategorizedCool Planet Raises Additional $9 Million To Commerciali…
September 22, 2016
Cool Planet has announced the first close of a new financing round to commercialize the company’s Cool Terra Engineered Biocarbon Read More
Crop InputsJim Loar Promoted To President And CEO Of Cool Planet
September 22, 2016
In a move that reflects and reinforces the company’s commitment to the agricultural market, the Cool Planet board of directors Read More
BlendersNorth Dakota Coop Debuts Dry Fertilizer Plant
September 22, 2016
North Central Grain Cooperative has begun operations at a new dry fertilizer plant at its Rolla, ND, site. It is Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto, Bayer Officials Defend Proposed $66 Billion M…
September 21, 2016
Top officials for Monsanto and Bayer defended their proposed $66 billion merger before skeptical senators on Tuesday, insisting that the Read More
ManagementUpcoming Shows & Recent Events
September 19, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about upcoming trade shows and events and review the Mid America CropLife Association Read More
Industry NewsVerdesian Life Sciences Appoints New CEO
September 19, 2016
Verdesian Life Sciences, a plant health and nutrition company, today announced that its board of directors has named Kenneth M. Avery Read More
Corn
Crop InputsEPA Settles With Syngenta For Alleged Multi-Regional Pe…
September 19, 2016
The U.S. EPA has announced a multi-region settlement with Syngenta Crop Protection, LLC (Syngenta) in Greensboro, NC, for alleged violations of Read More
ManagementMerger Mania
September 16, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss this week’s mega-ag mergers of Bayer and Monsanto and Potash and Agrium. Read More
Monsanto sign
Crop InputsMonsanto Ends Up Being A Bargain For Bayer
September 16, 2016
History will say Bayer got a bargain in its $66 billion purchase of Monsanto, writes David Nicklaus, St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Read More
Greg Musson, Gar Tootelian
CropLife 100California Ag Retailer Steps Up To Feed Families Affect…
September 16, 2016
GAR Tootelian, Inc. (GAR) in Reedley, CA, is challenging the Central Valley to help raise enough money and provide 525,000 meals Read More
Crop InputsBayer, Monsanto CEOs Discuss Merger
September 15, 2016
Werner Baumann, Bayer CEO, and Hugh Grant, Monsanto CEO, discuss why they decided to merge their companies. Read More
Corn close up
Crop InputsNY Times: Bayer-Monsanto a Bad Deal for Farmers
September 15, 2016
Via NY Times: Don Halcomb, a 63-year-old farmer in Adairville, KY, is expecting his profit to vanish this year, largely Read More