One reason we love the Commodity Classic is “one-stop shopping” versatility, where farmers can see the latest in new technology; hear seminars focused on research and innovation; plus participate in the meetings of the four key commodity organizations.
At this year’s Classic – held last week in Nashville – one topic was most prevalent: the challenge of glyphosate-resistant weeds.
Glyphosate-resistant weeds are a growing problem throughout the Midwest. In Kansas alone, there are five weeds showing resistance to glyphosate: kochia, waterhemp, common ragweed, giant ragweed and marestail. In other states, the problem can be far worse.
Larry Steckel, University of Tennessee weed specialist, says effective weed control will require more discipline from farmers, many of whom have relied on the simplicity and convenience of Roundup Ready crops for the last couple of decades.
“The days of quick and easy weed control are over,” warns Steckel, who says soybean fields in Tennessee last summer were overwhelmed with glyphosate-resistant pigweeds.
Steckel says farmers have four strategies they must adhere to:
- Scouting. Disciplined, frequent and thorough scouting. If weeds are present, they need to be hit with a herbicide when very small. In the case of the glyphosate-resistant pigweeds in Tennessee, the weed can grow up to three-inches per day, meaning a four- or five-day delay in treatment can make effective control extremely difficult.
- Crop Rotation. In Illinois, farmers often adhere to a strict rotation featuring corn and soybeans, both of which feature seed hybrids or varieties resistant to glyphosate. Crops that contain no Roundup Ready resistant trait – like wheat – are a good alternative to breaking the cycle of glyphosate applications.
- Pre- and post-herbicides. The major chemical companies are promoting the use of a broad spectrum of pre- and post-emerge products, particularly ones that provide residual control of grass and broadleaf weeds.
- Tillage. Instead of running a 80-foot sprayer at 15 miles per hour for weed control, farmers may have to go back to a tractor and tillage machinery, which is slower and often more costly.
The alternative is pretty dramatic, Steckel says: Last year farmers in several southeast states hired crews to walk fields and hoe weeds.
“This is the 2010s,” he says. “We shouldn’t have to do that,” he says.