About “Beyond the Rows”

Beyond the Rows is a Monsanto Company blog focused on one of the world’s most important industries, agriculture. Monsanto employees write about Monsanto’s business, the agriculture industry, and the farmer.
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Managing Weeds…Now

By Mike Burger,
eCommunications Team

Dave Rhylander, marketing lead for Deltapine Cotton, has spent years talking to cotton farmers. Most recently the discussions have been about farmers not being able to take advantage of a technology they’ve depended on for years to manage weeds – how it’s affecting them, and are there solutions on the horizon.

Rhylander talks about a recent experience he had with his mobile device and how it relates to the technology loss farmers are dealing with now.

“A lot of people have mobile devices with many functions – making phone calls, checking email, texting, and internet,” Rhylander said. “This piece of technology offers tremendous value to me. However, several days ago my tracker ball stopped working. I couldn’t text, couldn’t get voice mails, couldn’t check on the weather, and I really found out what the value of this technology is – and you don’t really find it out until you lose it. And that’s where we are today with a lot of these cotton farmers who have weed resistance on their farms. They’ve adopted Roundup Ready® technology that was launched in 1997. They saw all the benefits from weed control, going no-till, ridding themselves of equipment and labor,.”

“Now, just like me and my mobile device where my tracker ball stopped working and I lost a lot of my capabilities, these cotton farmers are in the same position in that they’ve lost some of the benefits and values of the Roundup Ready Technology because we have weed resistance.”

Rhylander said this becomes a very emotional factor for farmers. Some of these farmers have been farming cotton for years. Or their families have been farming cotton on the same fields for generations, and with this weed resistance, fear has crept into the minds of these farmers that they may have to stop doing something they’ve been doing for years or generations.

Fortunately, there are solutions now and new ones that are being worked on. Not a magic bullet or a cure all, but solutions for farmers on a case by case basis. And the main thing farmers need to keep in mind is to be proactive.

Weed scientists know what practices are best for managing resistance. Implementing a diversified program that includes the use of several herbicides with different sites of action, applied in mixtures and/or sequences is one of the best practices to retard the development of resistant populations. Another important practice is to apply herbicides at the labeled rate and at the correct timing.

Farmers shouldn’t wait until they find resistant weeds on their farm before implementing these practices. Land managers who use proactive management understand that weeds and herbicide resistance are a consequence of herbicide management decisions.

This is an issue that faces farmers globally, from annual ryegrass in Australia to marestail in Brazil, and most recently palmer pigweed in the U.S. But if farmers get out ahead of this problem, it’s one that can be managed.

For more information on weed management practices, please visit Weed Management.

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