- Increasing populations of glyphosate-resistant pigweeds lead to loose group effort to deal with problem.
- Cotton producers' fields, turnrows and ditches noticeably cleaner of resistant weeds following 'zero tolerance' growing season.
- Control programs discussed.
COTTON PRODUCER MIKE Morgan, member of a group of ‘zero tolerance’ farmers in Arkansas’ Clay County, quickly dispatches any Palmer amaranth he finds. “Whenever anyone on the farm is riding down the turnrow, watering, whatever, and sees (a pigweed), we go get it.”
Morgan has also employed chopping crews. “We’ve had one large and two smaller ones out. They worked over three months and chopped every day.”
His hoeing bill this season was “outrageous. But these pigweeds hide easily. We need the crews to go over the fields with (a keen eye). Pigweeds can hide out in the field middles. They’ll go to seed whether they’re six inches tall or 10-feet tall. And one little plant can send weeds over a big area.
“The first trip across the fields chopping was the hardest, and most expensive, to do. The second time was easier – although in the sandier fields the pigweeds were really bad in, we had to chop three times.”
Morgan’s operation still has pigweeds, but “very few. We’re doing our best. Whenever anyone on the farm is riding down the turnrow, watering, whatever, and see one, we go get it.”
There’s no choice, he says. “The number of pigweeds is exploding. I see them growing on gravel roads, in cracks of concrete. It’s unreal. I’ve seen them on the bridge going to Memphis – pigweeds just growing there out of the concrete. You shake your head and wonder ‘how in the world?’
Andy Vangilder, Clay County Extension staff chair, has “seen the same thing around construction areas. I’ve seen them growing around the concrete pilings along highways. How did they even get there?”
Engle agrees. “It’s a crazy weed. If you mow them, they’ll head out when they’re barely up. It’s almost like they have a mind of their own. They’re like kudzu – grow from nothing to huge in no time.”
Like Morgan, Engle has also been chopping and spraying all summer. “We’ve had five hands just chopping pigweeds most of the summer.
“Where the big winter rains back water up on our land it seems the pigweed seed are spreading. Everyone is sharing in this – seed moves in that water. That’s one reason why everyone needs to be vigilant and get these pigweeds. If you don’t, it will hurt your neighbor.”
Floods deposit pigweed seed in interesting ways, says Morgan. A field rented for the first time this year is “around the St. Francis River. It completely flooded and after the water receded, it was odd how the pigweeds emerged. There were a few dotted out in the field interior but an unreal amount of pigweeds surrounded it.”