Research gains on resistant ryegrass I have taken a break from rice weed control stuff this week and have been working on wheat again. When we first documented the Hoelon-resistant ryegrass in Pulaski County, Ark., in 1995, I began screening some herbicides.

I quickly realized that due to a lack of alternative herbicides, I needed more help on this particular problem. We assembled a team of scientists, headed up by Dick Oliver, to work on different aspects of the problem. We proposed a project (in addition to the one I have had through the years) to the Wheat Promotion Board, asking that they fund it out of your check-off dollars. They agreed and Oliver used the funds to support a graduate student.

If you have Hoelon-resistant ryegrass, you may be thinking, "I don't want a student working on my problem - I want the professor working on it." No, you really don't. The professors are pulled in a thousand different directions. When you assign a student to a problem, it has their undivided attention because successful completion means their ticket out of school.

Dick called one day and told me he had found a student, but he was a little short on grades coming in and if he didn't make a three-point the first semester, he was history. Of course, it isn't Dick's way to take it easy on a student getting started. He just puts them in what they need and they either sink or swim.

I gladly shared my research area (that a farmer just turned over to us) of resistant ryegrass with the student, Thomas Barber. As we helped him set up his project, I kept thinking, "I sure like this kid. It is a shame he is only going to last a semester." Lo and behold, he didn't sink, he just swam right to the top.

I just finished reading his thesis, and he has made an outstanding contribution to our knowledge base on Hoelon-resistant ryegrass. Sometimes a project doesn't turn out as well as you hoped it would for various reasons, but this one exceeded all expectations.

I love being able to go back to the promotion board to report how we spent your money when we know things have gone extremely well.

It is also fun watching a kid you had doubts about being courted by several outstanding weed science programs to come work on his doctorate.

Tom found in his project that we do have some promising herbicide alternatives to Hoelon. Finesse is helping some (when it rains to activate it) and several new herbicides are coming along.

I have just returned from a meeting where we shared information on a very promising experimental herbicide that, if things go well, we could see some use of in 2001 or 2002.

A large part of Tom's research project dealt with weed management methods other than herbicides. He found that fallowing one year and tilling and smoothing the ground several times to stimulate multiple flushes of ryegrass to emerge and be destroyed provided 95 percent ryegrass control when wheat was planted the following year. This was without the use of any herbicide. This has to become a part of a resistance management program, even with new herbicides coming along.

He also compared management programs like burning the straw versus not burning (with not much difference in effect). I thought planting no-till into a flush of ryegrass and destroying it would be better than tilling the ryegrass and turning up a new crop. He did not find this to be the case. I'll write more on specifics later. However, we are making progress.