The War Of The Weeds

When I was in high school, one of the scariest books I read was The Day Of The Triffids. A science fiction novel, the book described the fall of civilization as semi-mobile, carnivorous plants called Triffids relentlessly started to hunt and consume people, slowly taking over the planet in the process. What bothered me most about the book was its cover image — a lone human hand sticking out from underneath a pile of feasting Triffids.

Of course, now that I’m older, I realize the idea of plants somehow overrunning the world in apocalyptic fashion is purely fiction. Or is it?

Since the 2000s began, researchers and retailers have been noting the alarming increase in herbicide-resistant biotypes. Although weeds showing triazine and acetolactate synthase (ALS) resistance have been known for some time, biotypes with immunity to protoporphyrinogen oxidase-inhibiting (PPO) herbicides are new. Even more troubling, the world’s most popular herbicide — glyphosate — seems to have spawned a quickly growing hoard of weeds that aren’t controlled by it. These include marestail (horseweed), lambsquarters, and common and giant ragweed.

“No herbicide stays effective forever, and the honeymoon is definitely over for glyphosate and PPO products,” said Jeff Stachler, an Extension associate for The Ohio State University, at a recent industry field day. “Truthfully, 1999 and 2000 were probably the best times for weed control that we will ever see in our lifetimes.”

To back up this claim, Stachler pointed to some of his observations in his native Ohio crop fields. On his travels, Stachler has noted that 30% to 40% of the soybean fields in southern Ohio have giant ragweed present following a herbicide application. More than half of these same fields have marestail present post-application. “In most cases, the giant ragweed I’ve studied has remained viable after having 22 ounces of WeatherMax sprayed on it,” he said. “I’ve also seen this same survival rate with lambsquarters in my lab work.” Stachler added two other biotypes that bear watching are sweet clover (showing resistance to glyphosate) and kochia/Mexican fireweed (showing reported dicamba resistance).

Custom applicators attending Stach­ler’s talk agreed with his observations. Some reported using less than 1 gallon of glyphosate per acre back in the early 2000s. Today, control in those same fields requires 1.1 to 1.5 gallons to work. Perhaps more telling, 75% of CropLife 100 retailers report their growers have adopted some form of weed management in the past year.

To do our part, CropLife earlier this year run two inserts looking at Total Weed Management. Part III will appear in our November 2006 issue.

When it comes to curbing resistance, Stachler said that custom applicators and growers need to fundamentally change the way they control weeds. “If you use herbicides only, then you must achieve 100% weed control or future problems will occur,” he said. “If the weeds survive the herbicide, then you must remove them with your hand.”

This is great advice. While I don’t see the day when giant ragweed starts hunting people on the horizon, the vision of crop fields completely covered with resistant weeds is clearer unless things change. Based upon the evidence, that’s science fact, not fiction.

Leave a Reply

Latest News
MRM Agricultural Service
CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires CropLife 100 Ag Retailer
October 8, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, LLC has successfully acquired the Missouri-based agronomy business of MRM Agricultural Service, LLC and its affiliates (MRM). Operating Read More
HerbicidesMarestail, Hemlock Focus Of Fall Herbicide Application …
October 8, 2015
With the grain harvest progressing on or ahead of schedule in most parts of Indiana, no-till producers should start thinking Read More
Prairieland FS employees
EmployeesA New Approach To Employee Retention
October 8, 2015
Long gone are the days when the term “career” implied to 30-plus years with a single employer. In the past, Read More
Crop InputsNew Bionematicide Meets Large Market Need
October 8, 2015
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. (MBI), a leading provider of bio-based pest management and plant health products for the agriculture, turf Read More
Industry NewsTessenderlo Kerley Completes New California Manufacturi…
October 8, 2015
Crop Vitality, a business unit of Tessenderlo Kerley, Inc. (TKI), the North American subsidiary of Brussels-based Tessenderlo Group, and the Read More
Photo credit: The United Soybean Board/The Soybean Checkoff.
HerbicidesNew DuPont Herbicide Gives Updated Burndown Options For…
October 8, 2015
Soybean growers seeking flexible, effective broadleaf weed control have another option to add to their toolboxes. DuPont Canopy Blend herbicide Read More
EquipmentDeere Announces New API Linking Operations Center With …
October 8, 2015
Deere & Co. and DN2K have agreed to form SageInsights — a joint venture to initially serve the agriculture industry Read More
Crop InputsDuPont, Caribou Biosciences Form Strategic Alliance
October 8, 2015
DuPont and Caribou Biosciences, a leading developer of CRISPR-Cas technologies for genome editing, jointly announced a strategic alliance. As part Read More
ManagementStoller Field Trip and Upcoming Events
October 8, 2015
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss a recent Stoller Field Day, the 2015 PACE Council Meeting and another event Read More
EmployeesSyngenta First Agriculture Company To Receive Fair Labo…
October 8, 2015
Syngenta has announced that it has become the first agriculture company to receive accreditation from the Fair Labor Association (FLA). Read More
Eric Jenks, Wilbur-Ellis
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Opens Dry Fertilizer Storage And Blending …
October 8, 2015
Wilbur-Ellis Co., ranked No. 4 on the CropLife 100, has constructed and opened a 22,000-ton dry fertilizer storage and blending Read More
Fall Harvest
Crop Inputs360 Yield Center: Tips For Fall N Application Season
October 7, 2015
Harvest is underway and soon farmers will start setting the stage for the 2016 season. For many, that means applying Read More
Ag retailer at computer
Matt Hopkins5 Lessons Learned From Launching An Agricultural Data B…
October 7, 2015
Like many other industries, agriculture has witnessed big data rocket up the corporate agenda. And as an ag media company, Read More
Tom Vilsack
CropLife 100USDA: Ag Retailers Posted Record Income, Revenues In 20…
October 7, 2015
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the nation’s farmer, rancher and fishery cooperatives posted record income and revenue in Read More
FungicidesNew Corn Disease Confirmed In Illinois
October 7, 2015
Symptomatic corn leaf samples from Champaign County, IL, have been confirmed positive for the bacterium Burkholderia andropogonis (Pseudomonas adropogonis (Smith) Read More
Crop InputsBASF Expands Production Capacities Of Biological Soluti…
October 7, 2015
With the opening of its expanded Littlehampton, UK production site, BASF is strengthening its ability to sustainably meet the growing Read More
Dupont Pioneer
Crop InputsIs A DuPont-Pioneer Split On The Horizon Following CEO&…
October 7, 2015
The abrupt departure of the top executive at chemical and seed giant DuPont has reignited the debate over whether the Read More
DTS10 Sprayer Hagie
SprayersHagie Introduces 2016 DTS10 Self-Propelled Sprayer
October 6, 2015
Hagie Mfg. has introduced to the market the newest and most innovative member of its product family, the 2016 DTS10. Read More