Key Issues Perspective: Changes needed to stop weeds

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As weed resistance to herbicides spreads wider and wider, more and more farmers are recognizing they need help to establish a regimen for attacking the problem. A main problem still appears to be that too many farmers are not being proactive in following steps to keep resistance from occurring in the first place.

“The more proactive farmers do what is necessary, and the guys that drag their feet have resistance problems becoming increasingly worse,” said Aaron Mason, MFA Inc., general manager of the Pattonsburg, Mo., location.

“This year should be better because last year we had so much trouble controlling weeds that more guys are listening, and they are trying to use overlapping residual herbicides because they had such a problem,” he said.

He points out that farmers who used pre-emerge herbicides and didn’t completely rely on glyphosate alone in Roundup Ready crops are “light years ahead” of their neighbors in not having resistant weeds. He also suggests that uncontrolled weeds were such a big problem in 2012 that the weed seed bank greatly increased.

Mason says ag retailers should keep preaching on using pre-emerge herbicides with residual and a residual herbicide in a tankmix with glyphosate or Liberty herbicide postemerge depending on the crop’s traits. The residual as part of a burndown is the common practice for Pattonsburg area soybean growers.

Mason is convincing farmers to follow good stewardship weed control programs especially against waterhemp — mainly one farmer at a time. “We had a meeting last August to talk about the situation, and then over the winter, as guys came in to talk, we told them let’s not let waterhemp come out of the ground,” he said.

In another part of the country, increasing weed resistance, especially to glyphosate, has a chance of being slowed, although again it has taken farmers seeing weed resistance before becoming overly concerned. The state of North Dakota has had resistant weeds, mainly waterhemp, common ragweed and kochia creeping in from the south and east. While waterhemp is becoming a main problem throughout the Corn Belt and beyond, kochia is the one that is being pointed out as the scariest for North Dakota farmers.

The Red River Valley has more diversity in crops than many areas, but resistant weeds can be a problem in all of them. Mitch Bloms, Bayer technical representative for the Red River Valley, noted that since all the sugar beets being grown are Roundup Ready, alternative herbicides are quite limited and much less effective. The loss of weed control by glyphosate will result in many farmers switching sugar beets out of their rotation.

“These growers need to find alternative modes of action to control weeds in their corn and soybeans,” explained Bloms.

Actually, it is a need for much more than alternative modes of action herbicides. The need is to follow seven action points taught through the Respect the Rotation program established by Bayer CropScience a few years ago, Bloms said.

Bloms is attempting to get retailers to recommend and farmers to follow: using burndowns with residual before planting, rotating herbicide modes of action, apply herbicides at the correct weed size, not cutting herbicide rates, tank mixing herbicides when possible, rotating crop traits and stacked traits where possible and thinking in terms of zero tolerance in not letting any weeds go to seed.

Bloms said, “At the same time that we are giving them this message, we don’t want it to come across that they have to use our products and that we are blaming our competitors for all the resistance problems. We are saying don’t use any product continuously.”

For more information, Bloms can be reached at

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