Resistance of certain weeds to glyphosate and ALS inhibitors is expanding in Clark, and surrounding counties. While there are a number of these weed biotypes, waterhemp is one such weed with resistance to multiple classes of herbicides. With few herbicide options available for control, growers must deploy new strategies in how they manage waterhemp-infested fields.
Aaron Hager, a University of Illinois crop sciences professor and expert in weed management recommends that growers be prepared to deal with herbicide-resistant waterhemp regardless of whether it’s been reported in their county or not. Herbicide resistance isn’t limited by location—it can occur in any plant or field across the state.
Herbicide resistance spreads quickly through waterhemp populations due to how the plant reproduces. With individual male and female plants, waterhemp requires input from both for seed production. Genes inherited from two different parents elevate the chance that offspring will possess herbicide-resistant genes.
However, herbicide resistance is only one challenge associated with control. Waterhemp is a species very well-adapted to modern farming practices. It can germinate throughout much of the growing season— March through August. This demands that multiple herbicide applications and mechanical treatments are needed to keep the plant in check.
Additionally, female waterhemp plants are prolific seed producers. Plants average 250,000 seeds each but can produce more than a million under optimal conditions. Waterhemp can invade and infest new areas extremely quickly because these seeds are very small and mobile.
“We have to be more proactive, because what you invest now to preclude any further seed production is going to pay returns for years and years. Growers need to think of waterhemp management as “yield protection” rather than “weed control”. – Aaron Hager
Left unchecked, waterhemp has shown to decrease soybean yields by up to 42 percent and corn yields by 48 percent. Investments in high-yielding corn and soybean varieties is essentially wasted to waterhemp infestation if it isn’t controlled.
Farmers who think they can deal with the yield losses and don’t control for waterhemp, may not be prepared for the repercussions of a closely related species, Palmer amaranth. Palmer amaranth is extremely difficult to tell apart from waterhemp, yet can bring a yield to zero. Indifference to waterhemp can lead to the devastation of a farm by Palmer amaranth.
The battle for another herbicide is all but lost at this time. Focusing attention on targeting the plant’s weak stage in its life cycle is the key. The weakness for waterhemp is that the seeds are only viable for seven to ten years. One effective method of reducing the waterhemp seed bank is to let as many seeds as possible germinate. Then, before planting, apply a chemical or mechanical treatment so that the field starts “clean”.
“If growers want to continue to use herbicides, they can, but they will have to be very selective in which they use. Every time growers make an application they are selecting for resistance.” -Aaron Hager.
With the arrival of Dicamba and 2,4-D resistant soybeans we must put together smart management programs to prevent waterhemp’s adaptation to these products. We must not treat the programs the same way glyphosate has been used historically.
Agronomy Services From Northside Elevator
Seed Selection: Challenges controlling some “resistant” weeds present further consideration of the types of crop seeds to be planted. From drought resistant varieties to those with more robust root growth, your Northside agronomist can help develop a seed selection plan and program to support your goals for the 2019 season.
Agronomy Products: We offer a full line of products including: dry fertilizer, low salt fertilizer, liquid fertilizer, micros, foliars, fungicides, chemicals, seed, seed treating, seed tenders, soil sampling, precision Ag/VRT, scouting & consulting.
Agronomy Services: Advanced planning and enhanced technologies ensure the right products are applied accurately. To ensure this, we own and maintain a fleet of state-of-the-art equipment. Our precision-capable equipment is operated by our highly trained and experienced equipment applicators, and our abundant equipment resources mean we have the capacity to serve!
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Don’t Let Back Pain Slow, Or Stop Your Activities
When compared to the general population, farmers are at an increased risk for low back pain estimated 25-43% higher chance of injury). Strain on the lower back from operating heavy equipment, lifting heavy objects, and repetitive motions as part of your daily routine contribute to this increased risk. According to the National Farm Medicine Center, here are a few general tips to help prevent back pain:
• Observe good lifting technique (this includes first testing whether you can
lift the item alone or if you will need assistance, clear a path between you
and your destination, keep head up and shoulders/back straight, lift with
leg muscles, and pivot with your feet instead of twisting your back).
• Use assistive devices whenever possible to simplify the task.
• Maintain good posture (for example step forward with your entire body
instead of reaching).
• For projects that may take long periods of time, take frequent breaks.
To most of you these practices are not new, but it is important to keep
in mind that the repeated activities you do every day (lifting, carrying,
bending, twisting, pushing, pulling, and reaching) cause more back pain
than slips and falls. Remember these tips, stay safe, and help prevent injury
to your back.
Helpful Article References:
Syngenta: Weed size matters when competing with herbicide resistance.
Syngenta: Weed Resistance: Not If, But When
University of Illinois: Illinois growers are running out of options in fight against waterhemp