CHICAGO — Farmers are dealing with more than just weeds that
are resistant to herbicides. They also have challenges with weed shifts.
“A great example is the geographic expansion of Palmer
amaranth,” said Damon Palmer, U.S. commercial leader for Enlist with Dow
“This weed has been a real pest for farmers in the Southeast
for years, and now we see it moving into the Midwest, including Illinois and the
eastern Corn Belt in states like Indiana, Michigan and Ohio,” added Palmer
during a presentation at the Corn, Sorghum and Soybean Research Conference
hosted by the American Seed Trade Association.
“When I started at the U of I 20 years ago, there were about
two people in the state who knew what waterhemp was,” said Aaron Hager,
University of Illinois Extension weed science specialist. “In a relatively short
amount of time, this has gone from a species of obscurity to one that is the
driver species of the majority of our acres in Illinois.”
Now, Hager said, for some fields in Illinois, “we have a
weed species that when it comes out of the ground, we may not have a chemical
option for its control.”
And, he added, there is no evidence it will go away in the
One of the biological characteristics that has facilitated
the spread of the waterhemp problem is the number of seed produced by the
“Female waterhemp plants are capable of producing in excess
of 1 million seeds per plant,” the specialist reported.
Another aspect of weed resistance is how weeds are changing.
“Marestail is evolving from a winter annual to a weed that
is starting to germinate in the summer,” Palmer noted.
“Another complicating factor is herbicide innovation has hit
a stalemate — from 1940 to 2000, there were 10 new modes of action introduced,”
he said. “And from 2000 to 2010, there were no new modes of action introduced in
Looking forward over the next five to eight years, Palmer
said there’s an “innovation cliff.”
“Patents have decreased for herbicide innovation, so we are
looking at the technology we’ve got to use in the future,” he said.
“The foundation of the Enlist weed control system is 2,4-D,”
the Dow AgroSciences spokesman explained. “It’s complimentary to glyphosate,
systemic, and it has strong broadleaf control.”
In addition, 2,4-D has a regulatory package that is accepted
in more than 60 countries, Palmer noted.
“This herbicide has been rigorously tested and used for many
years,” he said.
The Enlist weed control system currently is being developed
for corn, soybeans and cotton.
“The Enlist Duo herbicide will contain two modes of action,
and the Enlist soybeans will have a trait to provide tolerance to 2,4-D,” the
spokesman explained. “Depending regulatory approval, the trait will allow
post-emerge application of Enlist Duo up to R2.”
Enlist Ahead is a management program that will support the
weed control system.
“It is designed for the grower and applicator, to help them
succeed while promoting the responsible use of the Enlist weed control system,”
Palmer said. “It is focused on recommendations and label requirements, herbicide
application parameters and weed resistant management to help sustain this
technology in the future.”
With the herbicide weed resistant problem continuing to
grow, Jon Fischer, U.S. corn and soybean licensing manager for Bayer
CropScience, noted the importance for all farmers to become proactive about
keeping the utility of the herbicides currently being used.
“We’ve seen the greatest increase in LibertyLink soybeans in
the areas where resistant weeds have developed to glyphosate,” Fischer
Over the past three years, Bayer has conducted surveys with
“The data from the 2012 survey for the Midwest and South
showed 65 percent of the growers are using pre-emergence or residual herbicides
with LibertyLink soybeans and 48 percent of growers are using both a burndown
and pre-emergence residual product,” Fischer reported.
And on 33 percent of the acres, a residual tank mix was used
“Something else is going in the tank, and producers are
using more than one mode of action to control target weeds,” the Bayer spokesman
said. “The survey reported 87 percent of the producers were very satisfied or
satisfied with the weed management of the LibertyLink program.”
“Residual herbicide usage in the U.S. has increased from one
out of three acres in 2010 to 55 percent in 2012,” reported Matt Helms, U.S.
launch lead for the Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System for Monsanto Co. “Monsanto
is building on our current platform of Roundup Ready PLUS with the Roundup Ready
Xtend system for tomorrow.”
For the Roundup Ready Xtend system, Helms said, “we will
stack dicamba tolerance on top of the high-yielding Genuity, and our
recommendations will have pre-emergence products to ensure we have at least two
modes of action.”
This system will deliver additional benefits and tools to
farmers by broadening the spectrum of weed control.
“Farmers are searching for more effective, broad-spectrum
weed control, and dicamba is a proven herbicide that when used in conjunction
with a diversified weed management program, including residual herbicides, can
deliver that effective weed control,” Helms said.
“That enables our customers to focus on what they do best —
maximize the yields of those fields.”