Farmers Seeing Weeds Become Herbicide Tolerant


By Nick Hausen

PITTSBURG -- Farmers across the Midwest have noticed an alarming trend that continues to get worse every year. Weeds that are developing resistance to popular herbicides.

Every corn and soybean farmer's dream is to have a weed-free field. However, weeds are becoming more tolerant of the common herbicide RoundUp.

"In the past, we've wanted a field to be perfectly clean, and that is our goal, but in today's world, that is a difficult challenge," explained Southern FS agronomist Monty Webb.

Tall Water Hemp is one of those weeds and can be seen in many fields across southern Illinois.

"Another new species that is similar to water hemp is Palmer Amaranth that we're starting to see scattered in our area," said Webb. "As well as Marestail is another problem that we've had. They're not necessarily new problems, but they're becoming more widespread."

In 1996, RoundUp Ready Soybeans were introduced to farmers as a way to kill off all weeds. Now, nearly twenty years later, the weeds RoundUp was meant to kill are becoming tolerant, especially where farmers used nothing else.

"Therefore the weeds, especially in fields that may be soybeans after soybeans, may continue to be controlled with the same herbicide, therefore after a while, plants develop a tolerance," explained Webb.

Webb and his co-workers at Southern FS are urging farmers to start every season with a clean field, rotate corn and soybeans, and use layered residuals. Another solution may still be a couple years away.

"In the next few years, we will see Enlist beans which are 2,4-D tolerant, Dicamba tolerant soybeans coming down the road, and also HPPD or Callisto is a product that would be that tolerance," said Webb.

No matter what new weed control solution is introduced, there are just too many weeds to ever fully eliminate the problem.


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