- 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.”
It can be done
Sparing a neighbor from pigweed seed must be a constant concern says Vangilder. “You just have to worry about the other fellow’s property. That has be an element in dealing with this problem. Everyone really is in this together.
“Mike and Greg were involved from the start. There may have been others, but they were among the first. They’ve certainly run with it and we now have a bunch of farmers involved. Even the two or three stragglers, after seeing how vigilant the rest have been, began taking care of their business later in the season.
“I’ve been with Mike and Greg, and listening on the radio, when they’re calling crews. Sometimes it’s almost constant: ‘I’ve seen some pigweeds in X and Y field. Come deal with them.’”
And maintenance is crucial.
“Something everyone needs to understand is you must keep after it until the cold really sets in,” says Engle. “You have to maintain. Two or three weeks ago, we kept thinking ‘well, this is the last week we’ll have to spray some pigweeds.’ But then there’d be another flush. We had to chop again” the week of September 19.
Early this year while surveying pigweeds emerging in his fields, Morgan admits he “actually felt some panic. I thought ‘This is something we can’t beat. We can’t win this battle.’ I didn’t think we could do it.
“But we decided to really make it hard on them and set in on chopping, running hoods and, sometimes, just pulled them ourselves. Finally, we began to see some progress.
“Hopefully, next year won’t be as bad as this one. And we’ll figure out how to control them cheaper. We’ve spent a lot of money on pigweeds this year. That was necessary because we’re determined to grow cotton and we’ll do whatever it takes.”
When looking at land to rent or buy, how big an issue is pigweed infestation?
“Well, nowadays, you have to consider the expense to make the land productive,” says Morgan. “If you’re looking to buy or rent a pigweed farm, you have to budget that in. It has to be cleaned up.
“So, it isn’t a factor that would kill a deal to buy or rent. But it’s something you have to keep in your mind – chopping, chemicals and all the rest.”
Asked about future plans to deal with pigweeds, Engle says he’ll stick with this year’s vigilant approach. “We’ll just get into it as early as possible. Weather dictates a lot of that and you just pray you won’t get behind. It can take a long time to get caught up if you’re planting late.
“We look at this as a ‘have to.’ There is no other option for us. You can see farms that have been left alone for too long and there are pigweeds wall-to-wall. It would be easy to make a farm nearly worthless and to a point where it could hardly be farmed. Pigweeds will absolutely take over.”