The Mid-South is blessed with great weed scientists — a good thing since the region is chockfull of yield-thieving species. Now, with herbicide resistance added to the weed mix, the need for such expertise has never been more acute.

This growing season, “we had all sorts of things going on in the fields,” says Ken Smith, Arkansas Extension weed scientist. “There were some really grown-up messes, some that weren’t so bad, and a lot of clean fields. Many of those clean fields have been clean right along while others required a lot of effort.”

Glyphosate-resistant pigweeds mean clean fields are harder and harder to find. However, with the technology available — “along with a little luck and a lot of management” — Smith believes growers will be able to control glyphosate-resistant weeds.

Since luck is too whimsical, the cornerstone for proper weed management is knowledge. To gain that, producers and consultants should attend the Nov. 17 PigPosium at Crowley’s Ridge Technical Institute in Forrest City, Ark. The symposium is co-sponsored by The University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service and Delta Farm Press.

Editor’s note: For the PigPosium agenda, scroll to bottom.

“I’m hoping the PigPosium will be the tool that will help us put everything together to combat resistance,” says Smith. “We must learn what control methods are, where they’re best used and how to use them. The information provided will help producers move from grown-up messes to ‘not so bad fields’ to fields that are pretty clean.

“There’s a lot of excitement about this and a lot of people are already inquiring about it. Folks that show up will learn a lot.”

At the meeting, farmers — who are encouraged to attend with their consultants in order to make a farm-specific weed program easier — will have the opportunity to talk to many researchers about managing pigweed beyond just what chemical to spray.

“I get a lot of calls from guys asking what to do in a certain situation. I always ask, ‘Are you grown way up?’ Many say, ‘Well, we’re pretty clean, but we want to stay that way. How can we maintain?’”

Wanting to keep fields clean is a prerequisite for dealing with resistant pigweeds, says Smith.

“Farmers like David Wildy and Adam Chappell (both are scheduled to speak at the PigPosium) are on top of this and have moved ‘keeping clean’ towards the top of their priority list.”

Wildy — who has a very low tolerance for weeds, according to Smith — “could say he followed his grandfather in farming the land and expects his grandkids may follow. He doesn’t want to turn over a problem farm to them. That requires a long-term management plan. Wildy won’t let that soil seed bank build up.”

Unfortunately, herbicide resistance won’t stop with pigweeds.

“We fully expect species other than pigweed to evolve resistance. It isn’t a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when.’ So, that’s why we continue to screen suspect weeds.

“Right now, we’ve got some really suspect barnyardgrass. Resistant barnyardgrass hasn’t been confirmed in the United States, yet. Hopefully, these weeds won’t be, either. But if they are resistant it won’t be a surprise.”

There is also a handful of additional resistant johnsongrass locations that have been discovered in Arkansas.

“Resistance isn’t just a one species issue, although the symposium is focusing on pigweed alone. Pigweed is the major problem, right now. However, topics at the symposium related to management will apply to other species, as well.

“We’ve been warning about this for closing in on a decade. I was doing presentations about this — saying pigweed was about to show us a new trick with glyphosate resistance — at least as far back as 2003.”

Continuing education credits will be available at the symposium.

“A lot of solid information will be presented, true. But there’s also good sponsorship from industry supporters. There will be door prizes. We’ll give away a nice, nice shotgun and other things.”

The Pigposium agenda:

8:45 a.m. – Registration

9:30 a.m. – Welcome and objectives.Tony Windham, University of Arkansas (U of A) Division of Agriculture, Associate Vice President for Agri Extension.

9:40 a.m. – Pigweed resistance: how much, to what, and where. Bob Nichols, Senior Director, Agricultural Research, Cotton Incorporated

10:00 a.m. – Pigweed biology: growth and reproduction requirements. Dick Oliver, university professor, weed science, U of A Division of Agriculture.

10:20 a.m. – What is resistance and how does it occur and spread? Nilda Burgos, professor, weed science, U of A Division of Agriculture.

10:40 a.m. – Best management practices for Palmer control in soybean. Bob Scott, professor, weed science, U of A division of Agriculture.

11:00 a.m. – Best management practices for Palmer control in cotton. Ken Smith, professor, weed science, U of A Division of Agriculture.

11:20 a.m. – Moisture requirements for herbicide activation (how much is too much?) Jason Norsworthy, associate professor, weed science, U of A Division of Agriculture.

11:40 a.m. – Lunch.

12:40 p.m. – Wick applicators for Palmer amaranth control. Eric Prostko, associate professor and Extension weed specialist, University of Georgia.

1: 00 p.m. – Practical components of crop rotation. Jason Bond, assistant professor, weed science, Mississippi State University.

1:20 p.m. – Economics of pigweed management in cotton and soybean. Kelly Bryant, Director, SEREC, U of A Division of Agriculture.

1:40 p.m. – New technology and future of pigweed control. Larry Steckel, associate professor, Department of Plant Sciences, University of Tennessee.

2:00 p.m. – Panel discussion of managing soil seedbank and farmer programs that work (moderated by Ken Smith). David Wildy, farmer from Arkansas’ Mississippi County; Adam Chappell, farmer from Arkansas’ Woodruff County; Jason Norworthy and Bob Scott.

3: 00 p.m. – Adjourn.