News On The Pigweed Front

There are lessons to be learned for the Midwest from the places where Palmer amaranth resistance to glyphosate first emerged.

Most growers and consultants across the Cotton Belt got to simply watch with awe as pictures of indestructible Palmer amaranth started coming out of central Georgia, growing large, gobbling up acres and cranking out seeds in the untold billions.

Glyphosate had battled mightily for years against all unwanted plants, but in 2005 it gave up the ghost on Palmer amaranth in a catastrophic collapse that rewrote the books on weed control in the Southeast, and eventually to the Delta and beyond.

Palmer pigweed in cotton
Palmer pigweed seedhead in cotton.

“We have lost the ability to control Palmer with Roundup in these fields, and we are going to continue to lose it as resistance spreads throughout our state – especially in circumstances where we are too dependent on glyphosate.” said Stanley Culpepper, Extension weed specialist at the University of Georgia in April 2007.

Flash forward to today, and while the situation is by no means perfect, growers are regaining control of their acres from the wrath of nature.

“We had a great 2012 as far as Palmer amaranth control – in fact, we had a great crop year as well,” says Culpepper, who is still at the grindstone on the resistance management fight. “During 2013, we have not been so lucky thus far. Mother Nature has greatly challenged our growers and their ability to implement their weed management programs in a timely fashion because of the excessive rainfall preventing field operations.

“Regardless of these challenges, I am amazed how well our growers are hanging in there,” he continues. What he means is that over the past five years there has been a gradual attitude change in growers toward being proactive about the problem. Culpepper pinpoints 2009 as really the turning point in grower mentality, when they “realized what this pest was doing to them and they took it seriously. They got aggressive. They have become very good managers and they are going after it.”

Long Road Back

The evidence, as demonstrated by significantly cleaner cotton fields throughout the 2012 and even in 2013 indicates that growers are making inroads. However, it is coming at a tremendous cost. The trail of expenses starts at increased herbicide cost, which averages about $68 per acre not including the actual application, and continues with hand weeding (surveys estimate 54% of the crop in Georgia was handweeded at least once) and a variety of tillage regimens.

“Some growers are doing a lot of tillage and some none, but on average growers spent $5.84 per acre more on tillage just to manage Palmer amaranth,” says Culpepper. “It could be deep turning, cultivating, preplant incorporating herbicides, anything tillage-related.

“So obviously, the total economics of the system is not sustainable,” he adds, “and it is my job to maintain the level of control achieved during 2012, but get control programs costs down to a more economical level.”

Still, despite the challenges there were definitely some program bright spots in 2012. For example, hand-weeding costs were down about half in 2012 vs. 2010. “We were spending about $25 an acre to hand weed two years ago, but now we are in the $12-$15 an acre range,” says Culpepper. “That shows we are doing better across the board, and have become very aggressive as a whole — driven by that change in grower mentality.”

Georgia growers deep-turned over a quarter million acres of land in the last three years and cultivated about 35% of the cotton crop. “If you talked to any of our growers, nobody wants to deep turn, nobody wants to cultivate; but we had to do things to preserve the family farm,” says Culpepper. “Now as we get restarted over the next couple years to a more economical production plan, we hopefully can get back to conservation tillage and actually do it better than we ever did before.”

As far as herbicides, the last few years have provided Culpepper and Georgia growers a solid education on the pros and cons of various products, and made it possible to create the best program options possible that also preserve yield.

Monsanto’s Roundup Rewards program made a huge difference in increasing adoption of residual herbicides by providing substantial rebates on selected actives. Fully implemented it could save a grower $20 to $22 per acre in herbicides. “I don’t believe (or at least hope) anyone thinks you can spray Roundup, Roundup, Roundup any more, nor do they believe you can do the same with Liberty,” says Culpepper. “They understand that a sound management program requires that we rotate chemistry and are diversified.”

There’s also a better understanding of herbicide strengths and limitations related to timing of application. “We have learned in the last two years what happens when we spray Liberty at sunrise vs. the middle of the day, or how long products can sit in the field and remain viable without rain,” says Culpepper. “Those kinds of things can greatly influence the level of control that a grower will get, and can make or break a system.”

In the short term, Warrant preemergence is going to be an additional tool to help Georgia cotton growers because it is a great tank mix partner with Reflex, which is currently used on about 90% of Georgia cotton, says Culpepper. “Those together in combination are very effective.”

Economics will be slower to come, but for now Culpepper is willing to revel a little in the heroic efforts Georgia growers have shown so far. “We are going to be implementing a diversified crop management system across the board, it’s not just spray, spray, spray anymore. That’s not sustainable. And our growers are definitely on that,” he says.

Topics:

Leave a Reply

Weed Resistance Stories

Weed ResistancePPO Resistant Pigweed Hits The Mid-South
October 1, 2015
If you’re a soybean grower already entangled in troublesome weed resistance in the state of Arkansas, Mississippi or Tennessee, you Read More
Weed ResistanceManagement Strategies That Worked In 2015
October 1, 2015
For better or worse, throughout many regions of the country 2015 provided the optimal growing season conditions for both crops, Read More
Patriot 4440 Sprayer close up
Weed ResistanceManaging Herbicide-Resistant Weeds: The Importance Of ‘A Clean Environment’
October 1, 2015
As the problem of herbicide-resistant weeds has spread, crop protection product suppliers have charged their top researchers with coming up Read More
Adjuvants loading
Weed ResistanceAdjuvants Trending Up For Fighting Weed Resistance
October 1, 2015
Gone with the wind are the days when adding an adjuvant to the spray tank was looked at with major Read More
Trending Articles
Monsanto Luling Plant
Crop InputsReport: Bayer Eyeing Monsanto For Possible Mega-Merger
May 16, 2016
Bayer AG is exploring a potential bid for U.S. competitor Monsanto Co. in a deal that would create the world’s Read More
Aerial Drone
Precision AgA Deeper Dive Into The Future Of Precision Ag
May 9, 2016
For about two decades now, through the good and the bad times, the ups and the downs inherent in agriculture, Read More
Palmer amaranth in soybean stubble
HerbicidesWSSA: Billions In Potential Economic Losses From Uncontrolled Weeds
May 4, 2016
What losses would corn and soybean growers experience if they were forced to eliminate herbicides and other control techniques from Read More
Eric SfiligojReasons For Hope In Commodity Prices
May 2, 2016
For many months now, the doomsayers have ruled the day in agriculture. Too much supply with too little demand would Read More
Eric SfiligojMissing The Family Ties In Agriculture
April 25, 2016
By its nature, the agriculture market is cyclical. Up and down cycles come and go with a regular pattern. For Read More
HerbicidesHerbicide Resistance In Waterhemp Continues To Grow
April 22, 2016
Twenty-five years ago, waterhemp was virtually unknown to Illinois farmers. Today, the broadleaf weed blankets corn and soybean fields across Read More
Latest News
Southern States Cooperative
Corn Field
Industry NewsTiger-Sul Names Veteran Account Manager To Lead Central…
May 23, 2016
With the continuing growth of the sulphur bentonite and precision crop nutrient industry, global agriculture firm H.J. Baker has announced that Read More
Bayer sign
Industry NewsReuters: Bayer Defies Critics With $62 Billion Monsanto…
May 23, 2016
German drugs and crop chemicals group Bayer has offered to buy U.S. seeds company Monsanto for $62 billion in cash, Read More
Eric SfiligojPity The Monsanto Haters
May 23, 2016
An old saying goes thus: “Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.” Given current events, there Read More
Industry NewsCompass Minerals Hires Industry Veteran To Lead Plant N…
May 19, 2016
Compass Minerals has hired plant nutrition industry veteran Vatren Jurin to steer the company’s portfolio expansion into specialty liquid micronutrient Read More
ASMARK Retailers LIVE! Tour 2016 Group shot The Andersons
CropLife 100The Andersons Rejects Unsolicited Proposal From HC2
May 19, 2016
The Andersons, Inc. has announced that its Board of Directors has rejected two non-binding, highly conditional, unsolicited proposals from HC2 Read More
glyphosate
Crop InputsWHO: Glyphosate ‘Unlikely’ To Cause Cancer
May 16, 2016
Via Reuters.com reporter Kate Kelland: The weed-killing pesticide glyphosate, made by Monsanto and widely used in agriculture and by gardeners, Read More
dicamba, Roundup Ready 2 Xtend
Crop InputsASA: No Dicamba On Roundup Ready 2 Xtend In 2016
May 16, 2016
While Roundup Ready 2 Xtend (RR2X) are tolerant to dicamba and glyphosate herbicides, no dicamba herbicides will be approved for Read More
CPP, glyphosate, dicamba, atrazine,
Crop InputsReport: Congress Pressing EPA On Glyphosate Review Hand…
May 16, 2016
Via Reuters.com reporter P.J. Huffstutter: U.S. lawmakers have asked EPA to explain why it published – and then withdrew – Read More
Monsanto Luling Plant
Crop InputsReport: Bayer Eyeing Monsanto For Possible Mega-Merger
May 16, 2016
Bayer AG is exploring a potential bid for U.S. competitor Monsanto Co. in a deal that would create the world’s Read More
ManagementAsmark Institute Tour Observations
May 12, 2016
Special Guest CropLife Field Editor Matthew Grassi discusses his week-long visit with 45 ag retailers as part of the Asmark Read More
MicronutrientsCompass Minerals Expands Trial Work For Wolf Trax Innov…
May 12, 2016
Fertilizer manufacturer Compass Minerals continues to expand the evaluation program for its Wolf Trax micronutrient fertilizer products, according to a Read More
Young Corn Closeup
Industry NewsArysta Adds To Marketing Team
May 12, 2016
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced the addition of David Davies to its marketing team. As marketing manager, Davies will Read More
Photo credit: The United Soybean Board/The Soybean Checkoff.
Crop InputsSyngenta Launches New Biological Seed Treatment
May 12, 2016
Syngenta has announced the launch of the EPIVIO brand family, a range of new biostimulants which address abiotic stresses through seed Read More
Crop Inputs2013 West Texas Tragedy Ruled A ‘Criminal ActR…
May 11, 2016
A 2013 fertilizer plant blast in West, TX, that killed 15 people and injured 160 others was caused by a Read More
Crop InputsLariat Partners Invests In Willowood USA
May 11, 2016
Lariat Partners, a Denver-based private equity firm, has made a significant investment in Willowood USA, a leading manufacturer of generic Read More
Anhydrous Ammonia tanks
LegislationARA: OSHA Announces PSM Formal Rulemaking Intentions
May 11, 2016
In separate communications earlier this week, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced plans to conduct formal rulemaking to Read More
The Andersons Fostoria
StewardshipThe Andersons Facilities In Fostoria And Gibsonburg, OH…
May 11, 2016
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced that The Andersons, Inc.’s facilities in Fostoria and Gibsonburg, OH, have been added to its Read More