(July 3, 2014) — People in the beef business have worried that the Baby Boomers would raise a generation of vegetarians. It hasn’t happened. The generation born in the 1980s and 90s — the Millennial generation, as it’s called — is still buying meat, but they’re also asking questions.
Herbicide resistance is a growing problem in Texas agriculture and has reached full-blown crisis levels in other parts of the country. The biggest problem here is with glysophal (Round-Up) resistant water hemp, which has spread from the Gulf Coast, where it was first discovered in 2005, into Southeast Texas and the Blacklands. Herbicide-resistant Palmer amaranth, often called pigweed, is a major problem in the Southeast U.S. cotton fields and has also been found in West Texas, although at not nearly the same levels.
The response so far has been to attack the resistant weeds with a combination of chemicals rather than relying on the one that the crops are resistant to. At the 51st annual Stiles Farm Field Day earlier this month, Texas AgriLife Extension specialists discussed herbicide resistance, products designed to control it, and warnings associated with those products.
Paul Baumann, an Extension weed specialist, said Round-Up resistant water hemp can be controlled, not with Round-Up alone but in concert with a pre-plant, soil-applied herbicide, as well as with early or mid-season post-planting herbicides.
“I don’t recommend taking Round-Up out of the mix,” Baumann said. “It’s too good to throw out the window. It will still do a good job controlling grasses and other weeds. But you’re going to have to do something else to take out the water hemp.
“You may not think you have a problem, but if just one weed survives, it can drop as many as 500,000 seeds. That means you’re probably going to have a pretty good crop of water hemp the next year.”
Three out of four growers surveyed by the chemical company BASF recently said they suspect glysophol resistance is the biggest cause of their tough-to-control weeds. More than half said they have changed their weed management program, with most adding an additional herbicide to their existing program and two-thirds applying a pre-emergence herbicide. Nearly two-thirds of the respondents said water hemp was the toughest weed they had to deal with in 2013.
BASF also announced it will produce 50 percent more dicamba weed killer in Texas to keep pace with anticipated demand for a new generation of genetically modified crops. The plans are in response to herbicide resistant weeds and to new soybean and cotton varieties being engineered by Monsanto that are expected to be available in 2015.
Texas AgriLife Extension cotton specialist Gaylon Morgan mentioned triple-stacked cotton that will be resistant to Round-Up, Liberty and dicamba.
“Round-Up-resistant pigweed is driving this technology,” Morgan said. “The Southeast Delta is where they have the biggest problem with it. As the technology becomes available you will have to decide what the value is to your farm. If you don’t have Round-Up resistant pigweed, it’s not going to be worth it to a lot of you.”
There is also some resistance to the new technologies. The Save Our Crops Coalition believes the new chemicals are “highly likely” to drift onto their crops and cause significant damage. Both Baumann and Morgan addressed the issue of drift in their respective presentations.
“These new technologies will be very prescriptive,” Baumann said. “The important thing to remember is that we have to show good chemical stewardship. We can’t overuse it.”
Morgan talked about how nozzle size, spray speed and boom height affect how likely and how far a chemical will drift. He said applications of the new technologies featuring dicamba will likely be limited to times when the wind is blowing between three and 1 miles per hour. Less than three miles per hour, he said, and there is a risk of temperature inversion.
“All of this will be on the label,” Morgan said. “It’s not just recommendations. We know it works, but we have to keep it where we put it.”