Sunday, February 20, 2011

SUPER WEEDS & CHEMICAL DEPENDENCY

Found myself reading the Southeast Farm Press this week.  The article below about a weed that is resistant to pesticides helped me understand the nasty world of chemical dependency that modern farmers fall victim to.  Imagine going out and spraying acres of clear soil with poison.  The idea really creeps me out.



Growers share resistant pigweed control strategies  Paul Hollis

The first step is acceptance, and no, we’re not talking about a 12-step program. The name of this game is glyphosate-resistant (glyphosate is Round-up) Palmer amaranth pigweed, and the first step in preventing or battling it is admitting you have a problem.
“Don’t deny it, and don’t say that you’ve got only three or four on your farm, and you’re not going to do anything about it. It’s here and it’s real,” says Patrick Turnhage, a west Tennessee farmer. Turnhage was on a panel of consultants and growers telling of their experiences with resistant Palmer pigweed during a recent meeting in Decatur in north Alabama
Turnhage said it was great to see such a large turnout at the meeting focusing on resistant pigweed. “Five years ago, you couldn’t get two or three people together long enough to talk about it. If someone said resistant pigweed, they’d bust up like a covey of quail. You should treat a farm as if you cannot kill a pigweed. If it gets its head above ground and you treat it, but treat it as if you cannot kill it with anything, you’ll be successful,” he says.
It’s important, he says, to overlap pre-emergence treatments and chemistries by following a calendar rather than by driving out into the field to see if pigweeds are emerging.
“If that pre-emergence has a two-week residual, you need to get out in 10 days and spray. You’ve got to learn how to spray clean ground. It’s hard to do — it’s hard to spray something that is as clean as a concrete parking lot, but you’ve got to try and do it if you want to stay in business,” says Turnhage.
Resistant pigweed is putting farmers out of business, he adds. “We’re talking about bush hogging 80-acre cotton fields and disking up 1,000 acres at a time because they’d be alright,” he says.
Next July, says Turnhage, you can go to the foothills of Missouri, in west Tennessee, and tell exactly to the row where people have applied their pre-emergence, and where people are digging and trying to rescue their crop. “They’re spending more money trying to rescue it than they would have putting out the pre-emergence in a timely manner. My grandfather always said that you should spend money only on the things that make you money, and these pre-emergence treatments will make you money and keep you in business,” he says.
“We’ll actually put out herbicide before we do any tillage, because you can’t rely on tillage alone to eliminate that problem. Disking, bedding or chiseling alone won’t do the job. You have to kill pigweed before it gets above the ground.” 
Bill Webster, a consultant in Alabama and Tennessee, says it was about four years ago when he decided he probably had a problem with resistant pigweed. “We had escapes that first year. Then, the next year — about three years ago —  we planted cotton, put down Prowl, let it get activated, came back twice with Roundup, and still had pigweed. We killed a few with Staple, but most of them survived and we ended up topping them out. The next year — two years ago — we planted in wheat and then came back with soybeans, double-cropped, and put out the pre-emergence,” he says.
When rain finally did arrive, says Webster, the pigweeds came up. “Once they get any size on them, you’re not going to get rid of them. This year, we noticed that the combines and other equipment spread them to more fields. You can tell where the equipment pulled into the field. There may be a streak of them or they may be scattered in the field,” he says.
Webster says he’ll be advising growers to do more incorporating of yellow herbicides. “We just need to stay on top of them. I don’t think we’ll ever eliminate them,” he says(read entire article)





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