What is in this article?:
- Group effort in tackling northeast Arkansas Roundup-resistant pigweeds.
- Effort paying off for cotton producers in Clay County.
COTTON PRODUCER GREG Engle, left, and Andy Vangilder, Clay County Extension staff chair, are part of a northeast Arkansas group dedicated to combating resistant pigweeds.
Two years ago, if there were 20 pigweeds in a field “you wouldn’t have thought a thing about it,” says Vangilder. “You’d have picked your cotton and thought, ‘well, there are a few pigweeds scattered through here.’But, now, we’ve seen what those 20 can turn into.”
And through their collective clean-up efforts, producers have learned lessons.
“We need to take the information the weed experts deliver to us and use it,” says Mike Morgan, a cotton farmer in Clay County. “Then, hopefully, we won’t see more resistance to other chemicals.
“A lot of our crews, when they started chopping, might chop the weed an inch or two from the ground. Well, that won’t work with a pigweed. Those things will just grow out and then come back up. You really have to chop them flush with the ground, or underground.”
Morgan’s fields are set up to irrigate every other middle. “If you allow a chopped plant to lie (in an irrigated middle) it’ll still seed that area. You have to put them in a dry middle. You cannot believe how tough these plants are. It’s unreal how resilient these pigweeds are. It’s the toughest plant I’ve ever seen.”
Vangilder and Morgan say at first glance it would be a good idea to get the state or municipalities involved in pigweed control. But after careful consideration any such involvement carries a passel of concerns.
“It’s true that these resistant weeds are all up and down the highways, now,” says Morgan. “They mow a couple times a year. But you can cut a pigweed off and it’ll be right back and going to seed in no time.”
A day earlier, Vangilder spoke with a county Extension agent from Tennessee. “The county he works was one of the first that had this problem with resistance. He was interested in what we’re doing and if the state would get involved.
“I told him ‘I don’t know if they will, or not. But my concern is this: what we’re using mostly is Gramoxone plus a residual like Direx. We don’t want to get folks involved that aren’t up to speed on all the issues surrounding resistance.
‘First, does the state have hooded equipment? They’d have to purchase it. Second, it would require trained employees who wouldn’t damage crops in fields near highways. Wind and drift could really cause trouble.”
Highway departments have done damage to crops before by spraying Roundup. “They didn’t mean to do it but you can’t just turn someone loose spraying Johnsongrass without concern for the surrounding crops,” says Vangilder.
Morgan agrees. “If they sprayed Gramoxone in wind out of one of those trucks it would ruin acres and acres. Lawsuits would be filed.”
Even so, says Morgan, “something has to be done with these resistant weeds along highways or county roads. They have to be dealt with. If you allow a pigweed to stay in a ditch, the next year – believe me – they’ll be crawling out of that ditch and into your field. I’ve seen it over and over.”