As I discuss how we are going to get the collar back on weeds, I’ll first finish my thoughts on LibertyLink soybeans. I may sound like a broken record, but it is the new technology that is here now.
To me there are three types of growers out there right now when it comes to trying a new technology like LibertyLink.
There are those whose Roundup Ready program is working fine and they simply are not going to switch.
The second group are those who may have some resistance showing up or their neighbors do and they know they really need to switch technologies. With this group it does not take much to talk them out of changing technologies when they do not really want to change any way.
With this group, the resistance management program is likely to add some conventional herbicides to the Roundup Ready program and roll on. We absolutely must make this program work on most of the Arkansas soybean acres in 2010.
The third group consists of those that had a disaster last year, perhaps to the point of hiring a hoe crew. They will likely plant LibertyLink beans this year.
There is a tremendous irony to the above scenario as things seem to work in reverse order. It is actually the farmers in the first group that in the long run would benefit most from switching to a technology like LibertyLink. The best way to manage a resistance problem is to never get the first resistant weed on your farm.
You can do this with the proper mix of crops, herbicides and trait technologies. Get outside the box with a Roundup Ready soybean, corn with conventional herbicides, and LibertyLink soybean rotation as a matter of routine — especially as LibertyLink seed become more available.
If rice is in the mix, you could rotate between Roundup Ready and LibertyLink soybeans and both conventional and Clearfield rice. A program similar to that can take you a long way before resistant weeds would ever be a threat to your Roundup Ready soybean or Clearfield rice program.
The second group is not a lot different. You can use the same program but you have to go beyond prevention to make sure you completely eliminate any resistant weeds currently present. This could mean more dependence on conventional herbicides, longer crop rotations and perhaps skipping a cycle with the Roundup Ready technology or at least the glyphosate.
We have a lot of fields beginning to get in trouble that folks seem to want to take a Band-Aid approach to trying to fix. In some cases it seems as if we want to see how much worse we can let the situation get before we are forced to have to fix it. This attitude runs from basic industry through retail to the grower level. That is not a criticism of anyone, just a statement of fact as I see it.
The third group is in the ditch and we have a lot more of those fields than a lot of people realize or wish to admit. In some of these fields LibertyLink soybeans were recommended last year only to have the farmer talked out of them. While the dealer or consultant may have had what they felt were good reasons and were well meaning, the results were often not pretty.
Once a field gets to the point of being a Roundup Ready grown-up mess, then rotation to a crop like corn or perhaps rice and using LibertyLink soybeans are the only options for turning it around.
Escaped pigweeds were commonplace in eastern Arkansas soybean fields about anywhere you wanted to look in 2009. They all went to seed. Two things happen when it gets to this point. First a miracle technology (Roundup Ready) has been used up for the foreseeable future in these fields. Second it forces the LibertyLink technology into a pressure-packed situation.
While you have the best chance of success with this technology, you are forced to start using up another herbicide mode of action. Both Roundup Ready and LibertyLink deserve better.