As glyphosate-resistant pigweeds continue to surge through Arkansas row-crops, weed scientists continue to find ways to stem the tide. Their latest research will be on display during two upcoming field days: Marvell on July 19 and Keiser on July 21.  

“We’ve prepared for good field days at both Marvell and Kaiser,” said Ken Smith, weed specialist with the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture. “A lot of things we’ve heard farmers talking about regarding weed control will be addressed. Farmers will be able to see a lot of different weed-control options.”

The ‘zero tolerance’ approach to pigweed control that was advocated during the off-season’s “Pigposium” meeting will “certainly be on the agenda,” said Smith field-side in late June. “Actually, we’re working on one of the ‘zero tolerance’ fields, right now – walking through to take out the few escapes.

“We’ll talk about managing soil seed banks, about herbicide programs that work. We’ll talk about the technologies available to control weeds – LibertyLink, Widestrike, Roundup Ready. All of that are in the fields being covered in the field days.”

Field day attendees will be able to see the different control programs that work as well as different timing of applications.

“We have some really nice-looking fields to tour. And there are plenty of big plots to look at – these field days won’t be just a bunch of small plots. This will include larger areas so farmers can get a feel for what the programs look like in a more realistic setting.”

At Keiser, “we’ll talk about salvage programs. What happens when Plan A doesn’t work? Plots there show what cotton looks like when you get into a salvage program.

“One thing we realize is there will never be a perfect approach. Although we don’t like to get into salvage programs, occasionally there’s not much choice. When that happens, what’s the best option?”

Herbicides and row-watering crops will also be tackled.

In a row-watering system, “where does a herbicide go? When does it break down? Those are always common questions. How much does it actually take to activate the herbicide? If I get it activated and then row-water will it break down in the middles? The answer is: yes, it does.

“So, farmers will be able to see what works at the field days. But they’ll also be able to see what doesn’t work. Some of the things we’ve tried haven’t worked. But that’s the same thing that farmers are experiencing.”

The field days’ research plots and fields “have been through the same early-season challenges that Mother Nature threw at everyone. In the aftermath of all that, some of the controls are working well and some aren’t. Farmers can see what works in these conditions and take back what works or tweak their own programs.”

The meeting place for the Marvell field day – which will be held on the farm of Curtis Story -- is on Highway 1, just south of the Highway 49 intersection. “It’s on the west side of Highway 1, across the street from the gin. We’ll set up on the module yard and start registration around 8 a.m. with the first farm tours beginning about 9 a.m.”

Among the speakers will be Smith’s fellow weed scientists Bob Scott and Jason Norsworthy. Tom Barber, Arkansas Extension cotton specialist, will speak on varieties. Jeremy Ross, soybean specialist, will be talking about soybean varieties.

One of the tour highlights, according to Smith, will be talks by Pace Hinsley and Story. “Pace is a farmer and he’ll be talking about managing soil seed banks and some of the successes he’s had. He’s really seen some positive results with his ‘zero tolerance’ program.

Story “will also speak about what he’s done with weed control.”

The Keiser field day, to be held at the Northeast Arkansas Research and Extension Center, will feature a similar line-up of topics. Tours are set to begin around 9 a.m.

“There will be some technicians speaking on proper nozzle selection and spray equipment,” said Smith. “What can be accomplished just by changing tips out? What tips are most effective?

“We’ll be hearing about a new piece of equipment we’re testing in the field this year. It helps us incorporate soil residual herbicides better. We know that herbicides aren’t always reliable and we’re finding out if this machine allows us to bed it, to incorporate our herbicide and roll it all at the same time -- one pass to do it all.”

The field days promise to be chock-full of information for producers. “There’s a lot to talk about, a lot to show. I’m fully expecting a good group to show up with a lot of questions and comments. Hopefully, we’ll be able to learn from each other.

“One of the things that’s always good is to have some time for interaction between the farmers and university scientists. Specific situations sometimes need one-on-one conversations. There will be ample time to have those interactions.”

For more information, contact Smith at (870) 460-1091 or Scott at (501) 676-3124.