How serious have the outbreaks of resistant pigweed been this year in your part of the Belt?
This year we received calls from counties in Mississippi that we hadn’t heard from in a long time. We have known that resistant pigweed was spreading and was probably going to get worse. There are no silver bullets out there. A residual herbicide program will be just as important in a Liberty Link system as it is in a Roundup Ready system. Plus, when you see new small outbreaks, go chop them and get them out of the field.
We aren’t calling our pigweed resistant yet, but it’s still a problem, and we’re trying to deal with it. Our outbreaks aren’t quite as bad as Mississippi or Arkansas, but we are aware of how much worse the problem could become. Our best bet is to rotate some crops and take advantage of residual herbicide applications. Even if we control 80 percent of the outbreaks, that still isn’t good enough.
It’s a sad situation when you spend all of that money on this technology, spray your herbicide and then spend $30 to $60 an acre trying to chop the pigweed out of the field. When this weed reaches a certain size, some farmers can’t even afford to have somebody drag it out of the field. It’s pretty expensive. Liberty Link and Ignite are an option, and they’re good tools. But it’s all about timing. If you don’t get there at the right time, you’ll run into the same problem you did with the Roundup Ready cotton. You still need pre-emerge herbicides to manage your populations. It’s a major problem for us here.
Potentially, this problem is serious, and maybe we didn’t heed the warnings as well as we should have. But, we have tried to respond to it, and we’re using all of the recommended practices. I’ll say this much. Producers who never got away from pre-emerge herbicides are in better shape than the ones who did get away from them. And, yes, we are looking at the Liberty Link/Ignite system on our farm. That is certainly a viable option right now.
My growers never stopped using residual herbicides even though we had a lot of Roundup Ready cotton when we had DP 555 as the top planted variety in the state. We have always used a lot of residuals and yellow herbicides. But that still isn’t getting the job done. You’ve heard the stories about how the future of cotton production in Georgia depends on how we handle and control the resistant pigweed problem. And I agree with that 100 percent. Unless something new comes along, this resistant pigweed could change the way we have always grown cotton in this state.
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