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Rapid Spread of Resistant Weeds Shows Need for Zero Tolerance Weed Control, NDSU Pest App Now Available!

Weed Science, glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth, crop production, NDSU Pest Management app

Submitted by Craig Askim, Extension Agent, Agriculture and Natural Resources  

Rapid Spread of Resistant Weeds Shows Need for Zero Tolerance Weed Control

This research study was conducted in Arkansas but has relevant information that should be noted and applied here in North Dakota also.

Weed Science – The impact of a single herbicide-resistant weed can be far-reaching. In test fields, the seeds of one mature glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth plant were released. In the third year of crop production following the release, complete crop failure occurred due to infestation of this weed. This study shows the need for a zero tolerance threshold in the management of glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth.

The journal Weed Science presents research conducted over four years in four Arkansas cotton fields. In this study, 20,000 seeds of glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth—which may represent only 2% of seed from one plant—were introduced into a 1-square-mile area. The weeds that resulted were not managed, but allowed to “escape.”

Seeds can be dispersed by wind and water, and moved by animals, humans, and machinery. Weeds such as Palmer amaranth, that can produce a large amount of small seeds capable of floating in water, can spread rapidly throughout a production field. Palmer amaranth has prolific seed production, rapid dispersal, and high competitiveness with crops, making herbicide-resistant strains difficult to control.

In the current study, glyphosate herbicide was the only weed management used. In the first growing season, a separate patch of Palmer amaranth emerged 375 feet from the original location. In the second year, resistant plants expanded to reach field boundaries and infested 20 percent of the field area resulting in decreased yield and significant problems with cotton harvest. By the third growing season, glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth had completely colonized the fields, making the cotton crop impossible to harvest.

The expansion of resistant weeds seen in this research helps to explain the rapid takeover of many farms by glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth, particularly when glyphosate was the only means of weed control. It also demonstrates the need for a zero tolerance threshold of weed management—keeping all resistant-prone weeds from escaping control—to prevent loss of an herbicide or technology. Weed control based on an economic threshold (dollars spent vs. dollars returned) does not adequately consider the soil seed-bank and the risk for herbicide resistance.

Full text of the article, “In-Field Movement of Glyphosate-Resistant Palmer Amaranth (Amaranthus palmeri) and Its Impact on Cotton Lint Yield: Evidence Supporting a Zero-Threshold Strategy,” Weed Science, Vol. 62, No. 2, April–June 2014, is now available.

NDSU Pest App Now Available! 

The long awaited NDSU Pest Management app for smartphones and tablets is now available in Apple and Google Play stores. We appreciate the many commodity groups that funded this project and look forward to hearing your comments as you use this interactive tool in the field.

The initial download will take more time than normal to download because much of the app information will be stored on your device as well as the additional information accessed through your wireless connection. After downloaded, timely updates will automatically occur when you open the app.

Questions or comments can be sent to ndsu.pest.management@ndsu.edu.

Until Next Time!



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