Production Blog

Tuesday 06/19/12

Will Christmas Herbicide Rise?

OMAHA (DTN) -- Tan lines, mosquito bites and 98 degree Fahrenheit weather all point to sure signs that the first official day of summer is only two days away. So what has one Indiana soybean farmer talking about Christmas?

No, he did not spot a mall employee stringing lights on a Christmas tree or hear "Silver Bells" on the radio.

The answer: weed resistance.

Jim Shriver, a producer from Bluffton, Ind., advised other farmers to not be afraid of Christmas herbicide. When Santa Claus bellows "ho ho ho," he is actually reminding farmers of an important tool, Shriver said.

Shriver's advice comes at a time when the prevalence of weeds resistant to one or more herbicide, including glyphosate, is increasing, according to a report recently released by Rabobank International Food and Agribusiness Research and Advisory department.

Thirteen weed biotypes with resistance to glyphosate have been confirmed in the U.S., including horseweed, Palmer amaranth, common waterhemp, giant ragweed, common ragweed, Italian ryegrass, Johnsongrass, kochia, annual bluegrass, goosegrass, hairy fleabane, jungle rice and rigid ryegrass.

Weed infestation can lower yields by 17 to 20%, according to the Rabobank report. Weed pressure forces farmers to create true diversity in both chemical and production management programs.

"One of the things we forgot about in our toolbox is a hoe," Schriver said. "We used to walk fields all the time, and now we are afraid to. I've got a hoe in my truck all the time. If I see a weed that I'm not sure of or think it could be an invasive species, I get it out of there."

Many farmers, especially in the South, are hand roguing weeds as a way to control the weed seed bank.

"A lot of farmers are walking with hoes in fields now," said Larry Steckel, University of Tennessee Extension weed specialist. There are full-time crews that travel around cutting weeds out of fields, he said.

Jim Carroll, a soybean and cotton farmer from Brinkley, Ark., plans to begin hand cultivating his soybean fields next week for the second consecutive year. Before 2011, he had not hand cultivated since the 1970s when it was a common practice in cotton fields. Hand cultivation was the best option when Palmer amaranth became a problem in his fields after the 2008 floods.

If seeing Christmas trees in the mall during October was not an early enough start to the holiday season, you can grab a hoe and head out to a soybean or cotton field to begin celebrating the jolly season in June.

Maybe Shriver's poster board that hangs above his desk with "don't be afraid to use Christmas herbicide" handwritten on it is a reminder to everyone the importance of effective weed management programs.

Lindsay Calvert can be reached at


Posted at 5:29PM CDT 06/19/12 by Lindsay Calvert
Comments (1)
Yep, Lindsay, SOME of those weeds ARE beginning to resemble Christmas Trees-though which are tougher is, in and of itself, a tough call. There is a problem out there, and you and your contributors are right about re-embracing more "Old School" methods. The Good News is there are some new developments in tillers and weed control that can make it a little less "hands on" and time consuming. 1: www. 2. And these are just a couple.
Posted by Ric Ohge at 9:45AM CDT 06/21/12
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