Thursday, September 8, 2011

Aren't you going a bit overboard ?

We have taken a "pro-active approach" to waterhemp control.Maybe I need to explain just a little.  One of our weed problems for years and years has been pigweed.

Everyone has them.  It is just another weed, a bit of a problem but fairly well controlled.  Down in the river bottom we have had a "high powered" pigweed.

It has smaller leaves, and several years ago we found it was actually called waterhemp.  But was also "just another weed".  We were wrong. It and it's cousin the Palmer amaranth
are the most potentially devasting weeds out there.

Yeah, I know, Mikey has fallen for some chemical company hype.

Not this time.

The big problems with these weeds (and I am going to lump them all together) is three-fold:

1) They germinate almost any time.  Some weeds are early season problems, others  are late season problems.  These will take off and grow just about any time there isn't a frost in the ground.

2)  They are extremely prolific. How prolific?  Here is what Missouri Extension says: Waterhemp is a prolific seed producer, capable of producing about one-and-a-half times more seed than most other pigweed species. Waterhemp plants generally produce about 250,000 seeds per plant, although some plants can produce as many as 1 million seeds when growing under optimal conditions

Let's go low end, a quarter million seeds per plant. I see you shaking your head.  Here is one seed
You remember Jesus parable of the mustard seed?  It hasn't got much on waterhemp.  And that seed can lay in the soil for a decade and still be viable.  But like I said, we've had this for years. It's been an irritant, but not a problem.  Until something new came along
Yes, Roundup came along.  It controlled something like 99% of all weeds.   There's where the numbers get us. Let's say you have 100 plants per acre.  If you control 99% of them, and each can conservatively produce 250,000 seeds, that leaves 250,000 seeds per acre.  Now. combine that with number 3.

3)  These things have a natural resistance to Roundup.

So let's add all these up.  They germinate all season long, they produce horrific amounts of seed, and they have a natural resistance to the most widely used herbicide on the market.

Aman and I are getting a bit proactive.  I am afraid not enough, but we're ahead if a lot of folks.  I walked .. I don't know, maybe 100 feet through the field to the irrigator pivot for Neal's some seed production.  Coming back I got to pulling waterhemp.  I had seen 2-3 larger plants gong in and pulled them.  As I came back I pulled some smaller ones. Not too many.
This was in a place where you really had to be looking to find them.  And if each of these just produced 2500 seeds
I know, it's a poor photo.  But that one tiny little seed is in OUR field, not some online photograph In a field that had pre-emergence herbicide, post-emergence herbicide, was cultivated, and sprayed with glyphosate and 2,4-D a couple days before  .Yes, it is scary.

Aman and I went to a Becks Seed field day, where a "weed guy" from Arkansas talked about what has developed in the south.  Basically he put photos and experience in place of things we had just been contemplating.  Or to put it another way he just scared the **** out of us.

So what are we doing about it?

We have  been rotating our herbicide program, using a "conventional pre-plant" system in corn and a Roundup Ready system in beans. We are going to be more aggressive in a couple areas.  The big change is next year we are planting all Liberty-Link soybeans.

What does that mean?  It means more management needed, a hassle spraying, some very different weed issues.  But hopefully it will help us to keep the amaranth family of weeds under control.  Because by the time it gets to this, it's too late

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