I believe grower awareness about herbicide resistance is definitely increasing; I know it is increasing for growers who have problems.
My first experiences with herbicide resistance were with propanil resistant barnyardgrass and Palmer pigweed resistance to Treflan and Prowl. In both cases we had better herbicides coming along and that pretty much defined our early experiences with resistance.
The topic of herbicide resistance made for great discussions and presentations among weed scientists and we even talked a lot about it in grower meetings.
In reality, though, as long as the pipeline was full of new herbicide candidates, resistance was not much of a practical problem. Because most of our early resistance issues were easily solved with new herbicides, farmers developed a great deal of apathy toward the subject.
The attitude was: I am going to continue what I am doing and by the time I get a resistance problem, the companies and university guys will have answers for me.
I am proud of the weed scientists at the University of Arkansas for getting out front on weed resistance issues. It is not an easy subject to deal with as farmers are reluctant to change something that is working well and sometimes solutions can be very difficult.
Dr. Bob Scott recently made the comment to me that “I spend way too much time having to make recommendations that I know are not going to work.”
That does not mean he is not capable of making good recommendations, but rather sometimes there is nothing good to recommend. I share his frustration.
For example, I wrote recently about the ryegrass populations Tomilea sent in that tested resistant to all of our best ryegrass treatments. As this problem spreads and a farmer wants to plant wheat in these fields, what are we going to recommend? We can recommend Prowl or we can recommend Axiom and they can help some. However we know upfront they will not control a heavy ryegrass infestation.
In soybeans, there was more Flexstar and Ultra Blazer sold than probably in any year since Roundup Ready achieved wide acceptance. Some of it was used for weeds glyphosate is weak on. However, a lot of it was used after glyphosate had failed on Palmer pigweed.
Currently, if a farmer calls on escaped Palmer pigweed and says “I have to do something” the only thing to recommend is Flexstar or Ultra Blazer. While these are good herbicides, they did not control Palmer pigweed before Roundup Ready and they are not going to control it now.
At least in soybeans, there is new technology in the foreseeable future. During my recent discussion with Dr. Scott, he also made the comment that he was the most excited about Liberty Link soybeans than any technology since Clearfield rice.
I also share his enthusiasm for this technology. I spent most of my university career having new and exciting things to talk to growers about. We have had a 10-year lull with nothing much new to talk about. It is simply fun to be on the front end of a new and exciting technology.
I cannot tell you how fast the Liberty Link technology will develop in the field. From a weed scientist's perspective I can tell you the herbicide performance from Ignite is every bit as good as that of glyphosate. As with any weed control program tied to varieties, the technology will only develop to the extent the varieties allow.
An even more exciting future will lie in the area of stacked herbicide traits. Again however, the key will be how quickly variety development will allow this to happen.
My advice is to continue to increase your awareness about herbicide resistance. Take advantage of new technology as it becomes available. In the meantime, utilize every resistance management tool available to you.