Farmers will find no easy out of glyphosate-resistant weeds

I seem to be hearing at some of the winter meetings that folks are figuring out that herbicide resistance — especially glyphosate resistance — is real.

Now, where do we go from here? Some growers are blaming Monsanto for not “doing something about the problem.” One could argue the company has not had much of a stewardship program. It began with the attitude that resistance would never be a problem with glyphosate because it never had been.

Now that resistance problems have developed and are increasing, the company has come around to saying you do need to use a soil residual herbicide in a Roundup Ready program in some cases.

The other side of that argument is Monsanto provided a technology so far superior to what we had previously, it probably would not have mattered much whether it had a stewardship program or not. The time for stewardship is before the cows are out.

In all of my years of dealing with herbicide resistance, I have heard a lot of lip service on stewardship. I have heard a lot of talk about needing to tank mix another herbicide with the herbicide in question, and I have heard a lot of talk about needing to use a soil residual herbicide with the herbicide in question.

I have never heard, however, a company rep get up and say, “You just simply need to rotate away from our herbicide for a year or two years or whatever.”

Now the cows are out and in my opinion Palmer pigweed resistance is going to go nuts — especially in cotton and in soybeans that are not in a proper rotation program.

I do not, however, believe Monsanto is to blame. It simply developed a weed control system that was so good that farmers were going to use it until it did not work anymore. That day is here for some and will get here quickly for others.

When herbicide resistance problems developed in the past, industry and academia were quick to provide answers. Glyphosate resistance is going to be much more difficult. Most of the residual herbicides and tank mix partners being recommended now are the same ones that did not work very well before Roundup Ready came along.

Some are saying Monsanto caused the problem, they need to solve it. I would submit that Monsanto has not caused the problem — overuse of the technology is causing it. Perhaps Monsanto will solve the problem, but I doubt that it will be in the immediate future.

Farmers are going to have to manage the resistance problem on their own farms. It will have to be done with a sound crop and herbicide rotation program. There are going to be no magic bullets — at least in the short term.

A rotation of Roundup Ready cotton, corn using conventional herbicides, and LibertyLink cotton is one example. It appears that the LibertyLink soybean program is beginning to move forward at a faster pace. This will help. Several companies are working on programs to stack herbicide traits, which should also help. Maybe answers are coming from industry.

The problem is Palmer pigweed is such a prolific seed producer it can put you out of business if you are sitting back waiting for industry to solve the problem. If you are in a cropping system that is going to encourage resistance to develop, you need to take matters in your own hands.

The university guys have some good recommendations to help. Many of them are not very popular because they encourage rotating away from some of the easy farming methods, but glyphosate resistance is here and very serious for some farmers.

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