On those expecting a quick solution…

“I continue to run into folks that say ‘well, if I can just hang on for a couple of years, something new will come around. There will be a new active ingredient in the marketplace that will fix all the problems.’

“That’s not going to happen. There are no new active ingredients. There are some under development but what’s needed as a chemical solution is not another herbicide with a target site identical to other herbicides. We need a novel target site and we haven’t seen anything under development for many years.

“Hopefully that fact provides further weight to what we’re trying to do proactively before these new trait technologies are released. These may be the last things we see for a long time. So, we’d best steward them from the outset or their effective lifespan will be greatly compromised.

“Cold, hard steel is the only option in many cases. If you don’t have any more bullets in your gun, you’ve got to pick up another tool. If your only option is to hire crews to chop it out, economics tend to go out the window.

“Palmer is best described as ‘Satan.’ That gives you an idea about how bad it is.”

On other technologies…

“In the future, drones and the like could help with this in specific circumstances. If you had an instrument that could fly over a field and essentially scout for you, that would be great. ‘There’s some Palmer, I’d best go pull it out before it makes seed.’ That would be a wonderful application for some of these site-specific technologies.

“However, if you’re at a point like some farms in Arkansas with such high densities of Palmer, forget it. If you don’t figure out how to remove that Palmer or use enough residual herbicide, I don’t know how a drone might help.”

On drift potential with the new technologies…

“A lot is being said, a lot of research is being done behind the scenes on drift. It is a very significant concern with manufacturers, regulators, end-users and those downwind from the applications.

“I haven’t seen so much effort to minimize drift occurring before. However, drift will occur at times.

“These are products that at very low doses can cause noticeable effects on non-target vegetation. That doesn’t mean the effects are always lethal but that is cold comfort. The value of the crop may be affected even though the plants don’t die.

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 “There are also potential issues with the non-agriculture communities. What happens if there’s drift across a city’s rose garden? Unfortunately, these sorts of things are likely to happen.

“Everyone knows that cotton is very sensitive to 2,4-D. Now, we’ll be introducing more of that into areas where cotton is being grown? How to handle that?”

Anything else?

“We’re optimistic that we can use these new traits. We need the ability to use some of these herbicides, especially in our soybean crops, on these challenging weed species.

“The best thing we can do well ahead of when these traits are commercially available is to come up with a plan on how best manage them. Resistance evolves very quickly. How do we best manage them so we don’t lose the technologies’ effectiveness?

“Also, how best to make sure that what is in the tank matches up with the seed trait planted in the field. If you put 2,4-D on dicamba soybean, you won’t be very happy with the results – and vice-versa. Having worked with some of these varieties, they look darn similar. I can’t look at two plots side-by-side and tell you which variety is which.

“There are a lot of things to prepare for.”

Note: the ninety-seventh Arkansas Seed Growers Annual Meeting will be held January 29, 2014, at the University of Arkansas Rice Branch Station in Stuttgart.