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Weed War Remains A Work In Progress

Thursday, September 1, 2011 - Excerpt from Cotton Grower Magazine

To say that herbicide-resistant weeds have profoundly challenged cotton production in the past few years is an understatement of monumental proportion. Unfortunately, it is true.

On a positive note, the entire cotton industry is working together to develop strategies to manage resistant weeds. The consensus is that no single strategy will eliminate the problem. Rather, a combination of practices, often custom-designed to fit the needs of a particular farm, or even a particular field, is being recommended.

Keith Baioni, Business Manager of Crop Protection Products for Jimmy Sanders, Inc., headquartered in Cleveland, Miss., promotes the concept of being proactive rather than reactive. He encourages the producers with whom he works to adopt this same approach when implementing strategies to combat resistance.

For example, Baioni came up with the idea of F.A.R.M.’N. (Fall Applied Resistance Management Now), which helps producers in his area prevent weeds from producing seed and ensure a clean start in the spring through fall application of residual herbicides.
He also notes that producers need to be aware of specific weed issues on their farms.

“In that process, they must give careful consideration to their product mix, choosing a combination of products that provides the highest probability of managing their resistant weed problems, and, in that mix, they should be alternating chemistries (active ingredients),” Baioni explains.

In addition, crop rotation and tillage must be part of the resistant weed control strategy, and producers “must develop management strategies for field borders, which provide a continuous weed seed bank,” he says.

Producers also are being encouraged to alternate herbicide-tolerant traits or use herbicide-tolerant stacks for more efficient rotation of both nonselective and selective herbicides. Other ideas include applying herbicides correctly, controlling weed escapes with spot herbicide applications, row wicking, cultivation, hand removal and specialized sprayers. Be sure to keep farm equipment clean to prevent the spread of herbicide-resistant weeds and seeds.

According to the results of the August Cotton Farming Web Poll, 53 percent of respondents say they have seen significant improvement in control or better than usual control of resistant weeds after implementing resistant weed control strategies this year. Forty-seven percent believe the strategies still need to be tweaked.

Following is a sampling of the comments that we received from Cotton Farming’s Web Poll respondents who wished to share their thoughts regarding how they voted:

• “I have been rotating LibertyLink cotton on 30 percent of my acres for the last several years. Doing this and using residuals means only having to deal with a few scattered weeds. On a new farm that has been all Roundup, including this year, I had to put hoes through the fields six times.”

• “We don’t have weeds in West Texas. Oh, wait, it hasn’t rained here since October 2010. No rain, no weeds, and absolutely no cotton either.”

• “We still need new chemicals for cotton producers to further combat weed resistance. We need new residuals as well as new technology. Glyphosate has become a grass herbicide for us. Resistance will slow down expansion in cotton acreage for us because of increased man hours due to micro-managing weed control.”