Mind Over Matter: Southern Farmers Hold Line Against Tough Weeds

Farmers' new mindset is making the difference in fight against resistant weeds.

Published on: Feb 18, 2013

For far too many years, Southern farmers have lost ground against costly herbicide-resistant weeds as their constant march spread across the Southern farm landscape. But in 2012, the line was drawn, held and farmers might be turning the tide of the battle. But that doesn't mean it's going to be any easier this year.

"It's turning into a little better story than we've had in the past," said Larry Steckel, weed specialist with the University of Tennessee Extension.

From 2008 to 2011 the weed battle was getting worse every year in Tennessee.  Fields were messes, he said, having to be disked down and replanted. Just driving through the state looking at fields, weeds were winning.

Mind Over Matter: Southern Farmers Hold Line Against Tough Weeds
Mind Over Matter: Southern Farmers Hold Line Against Tough Weeds

"But for the first time, in 2012, we kind of checked that up and we're holding our own. We got better weed control and in a year and a spring when it was just very hard to get any pre (herbicdes) activated, too," he said.

There are no knew tools available to farmers to fight weeds resistance. So, what made the difference in 2012? Mind over matter made the difference.

"I think it was really just a lot of mind set difference from our growers. Just going after it, not cutting corners, using early burndown, stacking another one in right behind the planter then coming in with another one and using sequential residual-type products to get one or two activated," Steckel said.

But it didn't' come cheap. When Roundup controlled everything, it cost Tennessee soybean farmers $20 to $30 per acre to win against weeds. That cost has now doubled in soybeans. And in Tennessee cotton, the cost per acre to control weeds has more than doubled to now more than $100 per acre. "And that just isn't sustainable," Steckel said.

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