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Published July 23, 2012, 11:22 AM

Take action against weeds

What a difference a week makes. After a fast start to the planting season, we got a short break thanks to some precipitation that was much-needed at the time. Many areas were in dire need of moisture, so it was nice to see much of South Dakota getting rain.

By: Chad Blindauer, Agweek

MITCHELL, S.D. — What a difference a week makes. After a fast start to the planting season, we got a short break thanks to some precipitation that was much-needed at the time. Many areas were in dire need of moisture, so it was nice to see much of South Dakota getting rain.

Things were just about perfect. Then, suddenly, during the first weekend of May, storms dumped 6 inches or more of rain in parts of South Dakota. Just when you get most of your corn in and you think you’re going to have a good growing season, your fields are three-fourths water. And if you got it in, you may be replanting it.

Frustrating is the word.

Until recently, most of the state was going into the growing season considerably drier than the past few years. In years of less-than-adequate moisture, the state’s yields don’t seem to suffer as much as in years past thanks to no till, strip till and conservation tillage in general. Also, just as important is the technology in the hybrids that we plant today. Many growers in South Dakota and other states will be taking part in some nonregulated trials of drought-tolerant corn this year. This is just one of many valuable traits that are and will be available to us in the near future.

We have all heard of the weed resistance problems around the country, especially the severe resistance issues that growers in the southeast have been battling. Weed resistance has been moving steadily closer to our farms the past few years and could be a serious problem soon. There are steps we can and should be taking to minimize this concern.

Preparing

First, use multiple modes of action in a single growing season with a residual chemistry on all your acres, and second, rotate those modes of action in subsequent years. This is important for both corn and soybeans.

While many growers in our area don’t think we need to worry about weed resistance, just ask growers from southeast of us and they will be able to paint a not-so-pretty picture of the steps they’ve had to take to battle this problem. In those areas, farming practices have had to change, land prices have been negatively affected, and landowners are stipulating in land leases which pesticides can and must be used.

Some valuable tools will be available to us soon, such as 2,4-D-tolerant corn and soybeans called Enlist from Dow Agro Sciences. This trait is currently in the U.S. Department of Agriculture regulatory system awaiting approval. Along with this trait will be a reformulated 2,4-D with dramatically less drift and volatility aspects.

Many groups not so friendly to production agriculture are trying to stop or at least slow down the approval of Enlist, but hopefully the folks at USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service will find on the side of sound science and approve a product that has been used safely for decades.

These tools will help us in our quest for growing an adequate corn crop and keeping up with demand for food, feed and fuel in the future, but it all starts with us growers following proper stewardship on our farms and keeping weed resistance down to a manageable level.

Editor’s Note: Blindauer, of Mitchell, S.D., is president of the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council. This column originally appeared in the Mitchell (S.D.) Daily Republic. Agweek and the Daily Republic are owned by Forum Communications Co.

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