The Resistant Weeds Epidemic

As resistant weeds become more common in crop fields across the country, the entire agricultural community is scrambling to keep pace.

As a long-time independent ag retailer in St. Marys, KS, Doyle Pearl of J.B. Pearl Sales & Service Inc. has grown used to some interesting sights in his grower-customer fields. However, on a recent visit to one customer’s farm, Pearl at first thought he had somehow ended up on a holiday-oriented operation instead of one devoted crops.

“When I looked into the field, I at first thought this grower was harvesting Christmas trees,” says Pearl. “But when I looked closer, I saw these large, bushy plants weren’t pine trees, but weeds. It was then I realized that herbicide-resistant Palmer amaranth had arrived in our area.”

Unfortunately, Pearl is not alone in witnessing this kind of sight. Since the first herbicide-resistant marestail was discovered in Delaware in 2000, the number of similar hard-to-control weeds has rapidly spread across the U.S. At last count, say experts, there were some 14 species of weeds showing single or multiple forms of herbicide resistance in more than 30 states affecting thousands of acres of cropland.

“Palmer amaranth is a huge problem for growers because we’ve seen some plants that have had three applications of Roundup Ready WeatherMax and survived,” says Dwight Lingenfelter, a weed scientist in the department of plant science at Penn State University.

“Waterhemp is another weed that has shown resistance to multiple forms of herbicides and modes of action. There’s even one population of waterhemp that was recently discovered in Iowa that is showing some resistance to 2,4-D.”

Even worse, say industry observers, the cost of dealing with these herbicide-resistant weeds is quickly becoming an issue. For example, according to Dr. Larry Steckel, a weed scientist with the University of Tennessee, resistant Palmer amaranth cost Tennessee soybean growers more than $200 million in the past two years in increased herbicide costs, application ex­penses and yield loss.

Seeds Of Discontent

And if the plants themselves aren’t bad enough, ag retailers and their grower-customers need to be equally concerned with the seeds these herbicide-resistant weeds produce. According to Willowood USA’s Dr. Jeff Stachler, one waterhemp plant discovered in Moorhead, MN, produced 644,000 seeds. In another example, running water following a rain event in a field with Palmer amaranth present was found to contain 1 million seeds only 20 minutes after the storm.

Weed Resistance Issues Chart Weed Resistance Issues Chart

“If one plant produces 100,000 seeds with only 25% emergence and 10% of those plants survive, these resistant plants can produce up to 6.25 million plants two years later,” says Stachler.

For the most part, ag retailers understand that herbicide-resistant weeds are a major problem for their grower-customers. According to a survey recently conducted by CropLife® magazine, 79% of dealerships and cooperatives say weed resistance is a serious or very serious problem in their areas. Similarly, 51% of the grower-customers themselves view resistant weeds as a serious to very serious problem (see graphs).

The Quest For Control

When it comes to figuring out how to combat these resistant weeds, opinions from experts are varied. Some have advocated hand weeding mixed with alternatives to traditional herbicide programs as an option. “In 2010, it took 110 hours to completely hand-weed a 50-acre field, costing $33 per acre charge based upon a $15 per acre rate,” says Stachler. “In 2011, with the same herbicide program, it took only five hours to completely hand-weed this field — a cost of only $1.50 per acre.”

In other countries such as Australia, growers combating herbicide-resistant weeds have adopted an all-out war on the seeds. To achieve control here, growers have taken to baling their field trash into bundles used for livestock feed or burning this residual with flame-producing equipment that is pulled along behind the harvester.

Thankfully, here in the U.S., the situation isn’t quite as extreme just yet and 81% of ag retailers polled by CropLife® say they presently have the tools and knowledge needed to help growers manage their resistance issues.

However, as Penn State’s Lingenfelter says, ag retailers shouldn’t count on a completely new herbicide to come along and solve the problem of resistant weeds. “There have been plenty of new products introduced into the market to combat resistant weeds over the past few years,” he says. “But none of these offer a new mode of action option. The fact of the matter is there has been no new mode of action introduced into the herbicide market for the past 20 years. And even if a new molecule was discovered tomorrow that might offer a new mode of action for weed control, it wouldn’t be available for use on the market for another 10 years or better.”

Instead, says Willowood’s Stachler, retailers and growers should get used to viewing weeds in the field in a whole new light. “It is best to assume that any plant of single species present in a field is resistant at some level,” he says.

Topics:

Leave a Reply

Weed Resistance Stories
Weed ResistanceWeeds: The Fearsome Five
October 1, 2013
Although there are currently dozens of weeds that show some kind of resistance to herbicides, these five are the most troublesome. Read More
Weed ResistanceWeed Management Program Profiles
October 1, 2013
Here’s quick look at weed control strategies and their cost. Read More
Weed ResistanceRecognizing Resistance
October 1, 2013
Recognizing the presence of herbicide-resistant weeds and formulating a total management plan is becoming more important than ever. Read More
Mature Waterhemp in Corn
Weed ResistanceWhen Weed Control Goes Wrong
October 1, 2013
Beyond the possibility of resistance developing, ineffective control exacts cost to growers in lost yield. Read More
Top 100 Articles
Milan Kucerak, president/CEO, West Central
CropLife 100West Central Cooperative And Its New President Are A Match Made In Deviation
June 29, 2015
To appreciate just how unique West Central Cooperative is in the world of ag retail, an observer need only consider Read More
Winter Wheat
CropLife 100South Dakota Co-op Member Owners Vote No On Unification
June 26, 2015
The Boards of Directors for North Central Farmers Elevator (NCFE) and Wheat Growers (WG) have announced that member-owners have voted Read More
CropLife 100The Andersons Acquires South Dakota Plant Nutrient Manufacturer Kay-Flo
May 20, 2015
The Andersons, Inc., ranked No. 22 on the CropLife 100, has purchased Kay Flo Industries of North Sioux City, SD. “This Read More
CropLife 100AgGateway’s Barcoding Initiative Progressing Nicely
May 8, 2015
According to legend (or Wikipedia), the first step towards modern bar codes came back in 1948, when Bernard Silver, a Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Agriculture Acquires Minnesota Retailer
April 14, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, LLC, ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100,  has successfully acquired Liebl Ag, LLC in Ada, MN.  Read More
CropLife 100CHS, Aurora Cooperative Complete Fertilizer Storage, Grain Shuttle Loading Facility
April 13, 2015
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading cooperative and ranked No. 5 on the CropLife 100, and Aurora Cooperative (ranked No. 21) Read More
Latest News
Chesapeake Bay
ManagementCourt Decision Protects Chesapeake Bay’s Water, Wildlif…
July 7, 2015
Today, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the historic clean-up plan for the Chesapeake Bay. Collin O’Mara, president and Read More
Agworld Apple Watch Farm Management
EquipmentAussie Data Management Software Company Making Its Mark…
July 4, 2015
Western-Australia-based Agworld — having fully launched its data management software system stateside last year after a 2013 soft launch — Read More
Topcon AGI-4 on MF Planter
EquipmentAutosteer: Compatibility, Accuracy Remain Top Of Mind
July 3, 2015
The world of automatic steering solutions in agriculture has evolved rapidly in the last few years. From after-market add-ons that Read More
ManagementUnited Suppliers/Land ‘O Lakes Merger & Crop Update
July 2, 2015
CropLife’s Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about the reasons behind the United Suppliers/Land ‘O Lakes merger and USDA’s recent Read More
Industry NewsBioSafe Adds To Sales Force
July 2, 2015
BioSafe Systems has announced the hire of two new members for its service team. David Britt recently joined the team Read More
Chesapeake Bay
ManagementChesapeake Bay Clean-Up Gets Renewed Attention
July 2, 2015
The Chesapeake Bay has been called one of the most biologically productive ecosystems in the world. It’s also one of Read More
Measuring Bulk Tanks
ManagementBulk Pesticide Compliance: Top 10 Areas Of Improvement …
July 1, 2015
  In honor of the 33-year run of David Letterman’s Late Show, the American Agronomic Stewardship Alliance (AASA) is happy Read More
Industry NewsArysta North America Hires Midwest Sales Manager
July 1, 2015
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced the hiring of Brian Battles as the Senior Technical Sales Manager for the Midwest Read More
Farmer on tablet
Eric SfiligojThe Never-Ending Battle Against Modern Agriculture
July 1, 2015
In the world of comic books, the character of Superman often refers to the fight to save the world as Read More
Retail FacilitiesBuilding Up Ag Retail
July 1, 2015
In the oftentimes unpredictable world we live in, it’s nice to know some things can be reliably countered on to Read More
Retail FacilitiesMaple River Grain And Agronomy Phases In Site Developme…
July 1, 2015
Marcus Construction helped Maple River Grain and Agronomy in Casselton, ND, with the design-build of its dry fertilizer, liquid chemical/seed Read More
Retail FacilitiesA&B Welding Builds A New Liquid Terminal Hub For Br…
July 1, 2015
To build its new hub facility, Briggs Crop Nutrients enlisted the help of A&B Welding. The result, an efficient facility Read More
Edon Farmers Co-op
Retail FacilitiesNew Marcus Facility At Edon Farmers Co-op Provides More…
July 1, 2015
Edon Farmers Co-Op in Edon, OH, needed a new facility to consolidate outdated locations. Marcus Construction was able to design Read More
Retail FacilitiesKinder Morgan Expands Its Storage With A New Dome Barre…
July 1, 2015
Kinder Morgan wanted additional covered storage at its Dakota Bulk Terminal on the Mississippi River in St. Paul, MN. With Read More
Retail FacilitiesHeartland Tank Protects Fertilizer From Extreme Cold At…
July 1, 2015
The Arthur Companies in Harvey, ND, enlisted the help of Heartland Tank Companies to develop a new liquid fertilizer facility Read More
The McGregor Co. fertilizer loadout
Retail FacilitiesThe McGregor Co. Partners With Kahler Automation To Cre…
June 30, 2015
Kahler Automation helped The McGregor Co. expand its Clarkston, WA, operation with unstaffed loadout technology that enables customers to pick Read More
Dry and Liquid Plant
Retail FacilitiesKahler Automation Helps CHS Dakota Ag Cooperative Build…
June 30, 2015
CHS Dakota Ag Cooperative in Mooreton, ND, wanted a liquid/dry blender system that could meet the needs of its customers Read More
Crop InputsLand O’Lakes, United Suppliers To Merge Crop Inpu…
June 29, 2015
Land O’Lakes, Inc. and United Suppliers, Inc. of Ames, IA, today announced their intent to merge their crop inputs businesses. Read More