Glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth is spreading in the Southeast. Weed resistance is the top concern for Southern cotton growers, especially those looking to return to or continue using a conservation tillage system, a system a wily weed can flank.
For the last several years, Stanley Culpepper, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension weed specialist, has worked to perfect the use of heavy biomass cover crops to smother weeds out, particularly herbicide-resistant Palmer amaranth. He's produced a DVD to show growers how to do it, step by step.
"Rolling High Rye for Conservation Tillage Cotton Success" explains a cropping system that uses rye as a cover crop, growing it to 7 or more feet tall, rolling it and planting into it.
For all its strength, Palmer's seeds are not viable in the ground for long and need plenty of sunlight to germinate. Thick mulch blocks sunlight and prevents the seeds from emerging, and, if the system is properly done, can eliminate up to 75% of a field's Palmer seed bank in 30 months.
"This is about communication with the growers. The system is complex but can be done to sustain conservation tillage and is environmentally sound. Overtime, we can reduce herbicide inputs, reduce erosion and hopefully irrigation needs," Culpepper said. "The reason for the DVD is to give growers something than can watch and learn on their own time and refer back to as needed."
The DVD shows a grower what to do, starting with establishing the rye and what to do to get it tall enough to be effective; it then goes into how to roll the cover and gives equipment suggestions, giving detailed steps all the way through to planting into the rolled rye. The DVD covers Round-up or LibertyLink herbicide programs, too, and gives recommendations on herbicides to use and when.
But you don't have to get the DVD to see it. You can watch the entire video at www.farmprogress.com/heavycover