PCG EMAIL SERVICES: LUBBOCKONLINE.COM - Conference: Time to return to old-school herbicides

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LUBBOCKONLINE.COM - Conference: Time to return to old-school herbicides
Experts recommend farmers return to residual herbicides as alternative to no-longer-effective glyphosate


Posted: September 9, 2014 - 4:41pm  |  Updated: September 10, 2014 - 12:17am

Pigweed's glyphosate resistance is likely here to stay, experts said Tuesday.

That's the bad news.

In good news, alternatives to the once-highly effective herbicide are just waiting to be rediscovered.

Wayne Keeling, one-fourth of a panel discussion at the 62nd annual West Texas Agriculture Chemicals Institute conference, described "the new old world of weed management." Less popular herbicides, tillage and old-fashioned hoeing are all making comebacks in cotton fields.

"We need to go back and revisit these methods," the Texas A&M AgriLife agronomist said.

Rand Merchant, a Texas Tech doctoral student, described a survey he conducted. About three-quarters of the farmers who responded claimed to have resistant-weed problems, he said, and 2012 was the most common year for their development.

Glyphosate was introduced in the mid-1990s. The chemical — commonly sold under the trade name Roundup — was effective enough in its heyday to knock out any competing weedkillers.

"The Roundup system allowed us to have one prescription fit all. I really think the Roundup system has spoiled us," said Kerry Siders, another speaker.

Siders, an integrated pest-management agent for Hockley and Cochran counties, said today's weed fight will be as easy for many farmers as returning to whichever methods they used 20 years ago. A new generation, though, will have to learn those techniques for the first time.

"We've got a lot of young producers out there that have never used anything but the Roundup system," he said. "They've got to learn that incorporation is the key."

The pigweeds' herbicide-resistance is a dominant trait, Siders said, meaning it's a big enough part of its genetic structure that it's here to stay through future generations.

Mark Brown, Lubbock County's agriculture agent, said glyphosate resistance developed gradually the past few years. By this growing season, the weeds have overblown entire fields. The summer rains that made happy crops also brought their share of nuisance plants.

"We knew it was coming, but I didn't know it was coming with this vengeance," he said. "It was almost like a perfect storm."

The agent pointed out some herbicides are fairly effective, but still not enough. The idea of a chemical that provides 95 percent weed control might sound good, but the 5 percent of weeds remaining in a field can reproduce quickly.

"We've got to talk about zero tolerance," he said.

Keeling recommends residual herbicides. Also known as pre-emergent, the chemicals are applied early in the farming season.

"There are a lot of residuals to choose from," he said. "If we can do the best job we can with these residuals, these pigweeds will be few and far between.”

josephine.musico at lubbockonline.com • 766-8796
Follow Josie on Twitter @josiemusico

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