Atrazine celebrates 50 years of weed control

This season marks the 50th anniversary of atrazine, one of the most valuable crop protection products ever developed. Throughout these years, growers have relied on atrazine for efficient, cost-effective control of a wide range of broadleaf weeds and grasses.

“Time has proven that atrazine is one of the most reliable, flexible tools growers can use to protect crops from yield-robbing weeds,” said Chuck Foresman, technical brand manager for Syngenta. “Well over half the corn acres, about two-thirds of sorghum acres and up to 90 percent of sugar cane acres in the United States use atrazine to control weeds.”

Triazine herbicides were discovered by researchers at a Syngenta legacy company in the early 1950s, and atrazine was introduced to growers for the 1959 season. As the original developer, Syngenta plans to celebrate atrazine’s anniversary throughout the year.

The product is known for economical and effective weed control and the ability to enhance the performance of other products.

“Atrazine is an economical option that helps us control problem weeds like velvetleaf, vines and morningglory,” said grower Mat Muirheid of Oakley, Ill., who is a second-generation atrazine user. “We get more residual control for the cost, and that protects our yields.”

According to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates, atrazine helps corn growers like Muirheid save as much as $28 per acre. Besides protecting crops and grower profits, atrazine also supports conservation-tillage systems that can reduce soil erosion by up to 90 percent, and can help delay the development of weed resistance.

Muirheid noted, “We also use atrazine to provide a different mode of action for weed control. We don’t want to develop weed resistance.”

Today, besides being available as a stand-alone herbicide, such as AAtrex brands, more than 45 pre-mix products contain atrazine, including Lumax, Lexar, Expert and Bicep II Magnum brand herbicides from Syngenta. Foresman added that used in combination or rotation with other herbicides, atrazine also helps delay and manage weed resistance.

Because of its vital role in weed control and popularity in more than 60 countries around the world, atrazine has been carefully studied for years. World-renowned institutions including the World Health Organization, the National Cancer Institute and EPA all have studied atrazine and found no health concerns when used as directed.

“Atrazine continues to pass the most stringent regulatory standards for safety,” said Foresman. “In 2006, the EPA re-registered atrazine for crop protection use. And Syngenta works closely with growers in many watershed projects and in other stewardship programs to ensure that atrazine is used according to EPA guidelines and best management practices we’ve helped develop.”

Muirheid understands the importance of following those guidelines, so that he can continue to take advantage of the value atrazine brings.

“We follow the label and regulations for atrazine use,” he said. “Atrazine helps us get the best weed control possible.”

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