Weed control is easy; however, weed management in corn and soybean fields has become a much more challenging task. Roundup Ready technology has spoiled us with an “easy button” for the last 10 years, and it’s time to turn our brain back on!
“A dead weed can’t become resistant!”
“I’m going to let it get good and green before I pull the trigger, so I don’t have to spray twice.”
“By golly, this stuff really works… I think we can cut that rate next year!”
We’ve all heard comments like these, and our mindset needs to change. I’m not an old guy, but when I started in the ag retail business, it was commonplace to mix 3-4 modes of action in to a spray solution for corn or soybeans. We had to actually scout the fields, understand developmental stages of both the crop and the weeds… and at times, we had to hit it early and hit it hard in order to manage weeds in both corn and soybean fields. Staying one step ahead was the name of the game back then, and it’s the way of the future in managing weeds and herbicide resistance.
Since the cost per acre in managing weeds went down so much during the last 10 years (relative to the late 1990’s and early 2000’s), very few dollars have been reinvested in the Ag-Chem industry to develop new products. As glyphosate resistance has become more widely realized, a panic has quickly resulted in a flurry of new research by most major chemical companies to develop the next “pursuit” or the next “glyphosate”.
While this excitement is good for agriculture and good for farmers, for now, the name of the game is to prolong the use of the technology we have. New chemistry will not be created and approved overnight, and may or may not provide a long term solution. As a community, agronomists and farmers alike look forward for the next big herbicide to hit the market, but we need to prepare ourselves to work with the tools we have today. In most situations, today’s herbicide products should be sufficient, as long as we stay a step ahead of the weeds and pests that threaten yields in our fields. Whether you are an agronomist working to stay ahead of the curve, or a farmer trying to navigate toward higher yields… Make sure you understand the difference between “weed control” and “weed management”.