COLLINSVILLE, Ill. (DTN) -- Most companies bring farmers to field days to show off a crop. On August 15, Bayer CropScience brought farmers to the field to gawk at weeds.
Not just any weed either -- a population of glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth near Collinsville, Ill., has served as a test lab this summer for herbicide trials. While there was some waterhemp present, the pigweed specimens towering above the crop gathered most of the attention. Pigweed had completely overrun the soybeans in most of the plots.
The Bayer initiative is called "Respect the Rotation" -- an effort to get growers to take steps to fight the proliferation of glyphosate-resistant weeds.
Andy Hurst, Bayer CropScience product manager for the LibertyLink trait, said the company wants to give producers an intimate look at what weed resistance looks like locally and what it could mean to their farm. Southern growers have been in a full tilt war against Palmer amaranth for several years, but Midwest growers have been slower to accept the threat.
"It scared me," Delmar Volentine, who farms near Sorento, Ill., told DTN.
Southern Illinois University weed scientist Bryan Young has been conducting much of the work at the plot this summer. He said the farmer who owns the property noticed problems two years ago and the pigweed spread dramatically in a short period of time. He estimated Illinois currently has about 2,000 acres of Palmer amaranth. It has also been found in a few spots in Indiana and Michigan.
Drought affected the Collinsville area this year and Young said he irrigated the plot five times throughout the season. He figured some of the seedling Palmer pigweed might not have survived as well had the land not been irrigated. However, Palmer amaranth got an early foothold this year and it is a desert plant with a long taproot that allows it to thrive on little water. Irrigation water was also necessary to get proper activation of the residual herbicides being tested.
When Young picked up a soil sample from the field and showed growers the pigweed seeds within, the crowd muttered about leaving their shoes behind. "I washed all equipment and my shoes multiple times every time I work at this location," Young said.
Growers are urged to scout their fields this fall. Palmer amaranth may have only started getting a foothold in the Midwest, but cousin waterhemp is a bonafide resident. The key to planning a program for next season is to know what you faced this year.
Indicators of potential weed resistance include:
-- A patch of weeds occur in the same area year after year and you've noticed they are spreading.
-- Dead weeds appear next to surviving weeds after the same herbicide application.
-- Many weed species are managed, but one particular weed species is no longer controlled.
Contact your local state Extension service or state weed specialist if you suspect herbicide resistant weeds.
Pamela Smith can be reached at email@example.com
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