Because herbicide resistance is undermining efficient U.S. cotton production, the National Cotton Council continues to urge its producer members to be proactive and creative in dealing with this serious threat.
How is the NCC helping?
Foremost, the NCC is strongly encouraging its producer members to actively manage herbicide resistance, which is defined as the evolved capacity of a susceptible weed population to withstand a herbicide application and complete its lifecycle when the herbicide is used at normal rates. We update our resistance page at www.cotton.org/tech/pest/weed-resistance.cfm with the latest management strategies. Included are a learning module, a link to a Cotton Incorporated technical publication and videos that we have distributed to producers, Extension personnel and others. The NCC also developed the opening video for a recent resistance summit conducted by the National Academy of Sciences’ Research Council. We are emphasizing to government officials that the problem needs to be addressed through producer education and voluntary cooperation and not through various regulatory mandates.
For the past several years, we also have made sure that herbicide management was addressed by scientists at the annual NCC-coordinated Beltwide Cotton Conferences. This year’s Beltwide, for example, offered relevant presentations on the use of cover crops/herbicides in managing Palmer Amaranth (pigweed) and the use of residual herbicide systems in managing that troublesome weed pest. The NCC also is working closely with the Herbicide Resistance Action Committee, an international body founded by the agrochemical industry. That committee is supporting a cooperative approach to herbicide resistance management as well as the Weed Science Society of America’s (WSSA) worldwide survey of resistant weeds that will be used to establish a global herbicide resistance database.
Are there other educational tools?
The WSSA has a learning module on herbicide-resistant weed management for agronomic crops at http://wssa.net/weed/resistance/. We agree with their general principles of: 1) applying integrated weed management practices, including the use of multiple herbicide modes-of-action with overlapping weed spectrums in rotation, sequences or mixtures; 2) using the full recommended herbicide rate and proper application timing (based on weed height) for the hardest to control weed species present in the field; 3) scouting fields after herbicide application to ensure control has been achieved; 4) not allowing weeds to reproduce by seed or to proliferate vegetatively; and 5) monitoring the site and cleaning equipment between sites. For annual cropping situations, the WSSA says producers should consider starting with a clean field and controlling weeds early by using a burndown treatment or tillage in combination with a pre-emergence residual herbicide as appropriate. Producers are encouraged to be creative with their burndowns. The WSSA also recommends the use of crop rotation and other cultural practices, where appropriate, and the use of good agronomic principles that enhance crop competitiveness.
The NCC realizes that weed management is not a “one shoe fits all” plan and that one producer may use different weed management strategies for different fields. We’re providing producers with the best information available, but it also is important for producers to check with their local Extension specialists for updates on proven resistance management strategies.
Mark Lange is the president and chief executive officer for the National Cotton Council of America. He and other NCC leaders contribute columns on this Cotton Farming page.